Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has gone on the defensive concerning his country’s annual dolphin hunt at Taiji cove following a tweet by US Ambassador Caroline Kennedy expressing her concern over the “inhumane practice.
"Dolphin fishing is a form of traditional fishing in our country," he said, responding to a question about Kennedy's criticism. "We will explain Japan's position to the American side."
He also stressed the fact that there is nothing in international law banning dolphin hunting, and that they are not an “endangered species.”
The hunt first gained international notoriety when it was documented in the film “The Cove,” which depicted the struggle between eco-activists, Japanese fisherman and police in 2009. The film, which won the Academy Award was directed by Louis Psihoyos (a former photographer for National Geographic).
Each year fishermen from Taiji round up hundreds of dolphins near their village in western Japan, where some animals are captured for sale to marine parks, while others are killed for their meat. Those not taken are released back to the ocean.
This year, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society founder Paul Watson reported that 250 animals have been herded into the cove.
"The dolphins face a violent and stressful captive selection process. Babies and mothers will be torn from each other’s sides as some are taken for captivity, some are killed and others are driven out to sea to fend for themselves," he said. He also expressed great concern for a rare albino calf, expected to be the “top prize” this year.