The horrendous dolphin drive hunts we see in Taiji have been repeated in the Faroe Islands in the Atlantic Ocean and in the Solomon Islands. The Faroe Islanders hunt pilot whales annually and have so far resisted calls to end the slaughter, with the whale kill varying year to year from a few hundred to a thousand or more. The Faroes health ministry (unlike Japan health authorities) has issued warnings that the toxic pilot whale meat should not be eaten by humans.
In the Solomon Islands, in March 2010, Earth Island, after several years of negotiations, reached agreement with several coastal communities to end the killing of about 2,000 dolphins annually. In return, Earth Island is helped the islanders with funding to develop alternative fisheries, energy, and clean water supplies to improve their lives. Unfortunately, due to internal politics, one village has gone back to killing dolphins. Fortunately, we continue to work with other communities that have ended dolphin killing and even plan to promote eco-tourism to celebrate their dolphins.
Dolphin drive hunts in the Japanese communities of Futo and Iki Island ended in recent years, but many fishermen still hunt thousands of Dall’s porpoises with harpoons in the nearshore waters of northern Japan. Okinawa has a small dolphin hunt.
In Latin America, particularly Peru and Brazil, and in Indonesia, there are reports of dolphins being killed for meat and for bait for fisheries, including for shark fins. Earth Island is working with local grassroots groups in those countries to try to end the hunts.
Dolphins and other whales and marine mammals are also killed for subsistence purposes in Greenland, Alaska and Siberia, although some of these hunts are controversial and certainly still cruel. Of course, Iceland, Japan, and Norway continue to kill large whales in defiance of the international moratorium on commercial whaling approved overwhelmingly by the International Whaling Commission in 1982, which went into effect in the 1986-87 season.
There are serious threats to dolphins around the world from entanglement in fishing nets and gear and from pollution problems. Ocean noise created by humans, such as seismic testing for oil and military sonars, is also dangerous for dolphins and whales.
Japan and other nations should join in seeking ways to protect dolphins and other marine mammals, and work to clean up the oceans, rather than cling to unpopular, dying hunts that serve no nutritional purpose anymore.
*Photo from Reuters / natureworldnews.com