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Dolphin massacre turns sea blood red

Ananova - Associated Press

29th October 2003


Animal activists have released a video of
Japanese fisherman hacking to death dolphins
they had trapped at a small port.


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An American anti-whaling group trying to stop the massacre took footage of the recent hunt that shows blood-filled coves and several dead dolphins being brought ashore in boats.


The tape, shot by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society,
graphically captures the end of a hunt, in which fishermen
pound on the water, causing waves that confuse the
mammals' sense of direction, and then corral dolphins
into small coves where they can be more easily killed
with sickles.


Though subject to government-set quotas, the hunts are not banned under Japanese law and are not subject to international regulations because they are done near the shore.

Several dead or dying dolphins can be seen on the boats, bleeding profusely, in the footage. Activist Nik Hensey said: "It's a wholesale slaughter, which results in immense suffering for these animals. It's a sight that one just can't imagine."

The mayor and officials in Taiji refused to comment, but a fisherman's union representative said the kills are conducted as humanely as possible and pointed out the hunts have been part of local culture for 400 years. Hunting dolphins is not banned by the International Whaling Commission.

Fishermen in Taiji regularly conduct dolphin hunts during the October to April season. They have caught more than 60 striped dolphins so far this year under the government quota system. The meat is usually canned and sold in supermarkets.

But because of international pressure for an end to the killing of dolphins and the bloodiness of their hunting method, fishermen here have tried to keep out of the public eye. They do not permit videos of their hunts, refuse on-the-record interviews and have put barriers along the shoreline to discourage cameramen.

The Sea Shepherd activists said they managed to get the video by camping out in the town for several weeks. Three activists from the California-based conservation group were briefly detained by Japanese police after trying to stop a dolphin hunt and scuffling with a fisherman earlier this month.

The activists - a Briton, a Canadian and an American all in their 20s - were held for about nine hours of questioning before being released. They weren't charged with any crimes. Japan is one of the few major fishing nations that continues to support the hunting of whales and dolphins.


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