Japan’s Emperor and his royal family are still very much revered in Japan. However, it is a surprise to hear one speak out on an issue publicly, and now Japan’s Prince Akishino has stated his support for the Japan Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA) ending the buying of dolphins from Taiji’s bloody dolphin hunts.
Prince Akishino is the second son of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, and so second in line for the Japanese Chrysanthemum Throne. Prince Akishino studied law and biology in Gakushuin University, and went on to specialize in fish biology at Oxford University, but received his PhD in ornithology. According to Wikipedia, he introduced the fish tilapia to Thailand for aquaculture. Along with many other honors, he is President of JAZA.
According to Kyodo News: “On the first day of the meeting, Prince Akishino, who serves as president of the association, expressed concern over expected hardships for aquariums with dolphins, but he also said JAZA's decision is likely to generate positive consequences in the future.” Reportedly, participants were taken aback by Prince Akishino’s outspokenness on the issue.
According to the story, JAZA held a two-day annual meeting in Osaka. Despite rumors beforehand, none of JAZA’s member aquariums quit the organization over the decision at the meeting, although several have expressed concern that they will have trouble getting more dolphins for their aquariums as their current animals die off.
JAZA was suspended in April by the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) over its continued flaunting of WAZA’s code of ethics, which opposed buying dolphins from Taiji caught in the cruel drive hunts. WAZA’s decision to take action came after many organizations and thousands of individuals have urged WAZA to dump JAZA. In 2004, Earth Island Institute’s Save Japan Dolphins Campaign and the Elsa Nature Conservancy of Japan revealed the role of aquariums in buying live Taiji dolphins at high prices, an order of magnitude more than a dolphin could be sold for meat, resulting in a huge subsidy of the dolphin hunters by the captivity industry. JAZA held a vote last week, with a majority agreeing to end buying dolphins from Taiji and remain members in good standing with WAZA.
Prince Akishino’s support for JAZA’s decision is the most important support we have yet seen in Japan for the dolphins. Perhaps he and the royal family are getting fed up with the Japan Fisheries Agency making the country a global pariah over whale and dolphin policies? He and the royal family can help Japan move away from the dolphin and whale slaughter and towards a more scientific and supportive function for Japan in the global community around marine mammals.
Taiji dolphin fishermen vow to continue slaughter
Matsumoto (left) and Yoshifumi Kai speak to the media during a news conference on Wednesday in Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, about their plan to continue dolphin hunting. | KYODO
Fishermen in Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, vowed Wednesday to continue their dolphin hunt, despite a pledge by zoos and aquariums not to buy animals caught with the controversial method.
“We will never stop it,” Yoshifumi Kai of the local fisheries cooperative told reporters.
The news conference came a week after Japan’s zoos and aquariums voted to stop using dolphins caught by the so-called “drive hunt” method, as demanded by the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA).
Some dolphins are captured alive and sold to aquariums, fetching about ¥1 million ($8,300) each.
The vote was prompted by WAZA’s move to suspend the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA) last month over the issue.
WAZA regards drive hunt fishing — where pods of cetaceans are herded into a bay by a wall of sound before being butchered — as “cruel”, a charge local fishermen reject.
“It’s unclear which part of the drive hunt WAZA considers cruel,” Kai said.
“We used to harpoon dolphins but that’s several decades ago. Now we sever the spinal cord in a moment and there is not much blood.”
Shuichi Matsumoto, head of another local fisherman’s group, said they “have not broken any rules,” adding the group wants to continue the tradition and pass it on to future generations.
Taiji came to worldwide attention after the Oscar-winning 2009 documentary “The Cove” showed pods of the animals forced into a bay and slaughtered with knives, in a mass killing that turned the water red with blood.
Animal rights activists continue to protest in the town, despite hostility from locals who say they are victims of anti-Japanese bias.
Many of the dolphins are butchered for food, but campaigners claim there is insufficient demand for their relatively unpopular meat to make the hunt economically worthwhile.
They charge that the high prices live animals fetch when sold to aquariums and dolphin shows is the only thing that sustains the hunt.
Despite the overwhelming vote last week by JAZA to abandon the Taiji hunt, five aquariums are reportedly considering leaving the organization so they can continue to source dolphins from the town.
However, the vote has left aquariums with the problem of how to continue to stock their facilities — only 12 to 13 percent of dolphins at Japanese aquariums are captive-bred, compared with 70 percent in the United States, according to JAZA.
The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) was pleased to be informed today by the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA) that the organization formally announced their decision to officially ban all members from acquiring dolphins from the Taiji dolphin drive fisheries.
Gland, Switzerland - 20 May 2015 - The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) was pleased to be informed today by the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA) that the organization formally announced their decision to officially ban all members from acquiring dolphins from the Taiji dolphin drive fisheries.
The decision was made one day before the end of the 30-day grace period after the suspension in accordance with WAZA bylaws. WAZA Council voted unanimously to impose the suspension in Gland Switzerland on 22nd April "2015, based on a determination that JAZA was in violation of WAZA's code of ethics and animal welfare. JAZA board members then discussed the recent WAZA suspension of JAZA in Tokyo at an emergency session.
"The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums praises JAZA's decision to prohibit members from acquiring dolphins from Taiji," said Gerald Dick, WAZA Executive Director. "Today's actions reaffirm WAZA's well-considered approach of working collaboratively with international partners to improve the wellbeing and conservation of global wildlife."
WAZA has been engaged in dialogue with JAZA to stop the collection of animals from the Taiji drive fisheries for more than ten years. The drives have drawn international attention and criticism for the killing and capture of dolphins and WAZA has previously joined other organizations in speaking out against the practice. As part of the WAZA decision last month, Council also re-affirmed its position that members of WAZA must confirm that they will not acquire dolphins from the Taiji fishery.
WAZA considers JAZA's decision to be a welcome break-through and looks forward to receiving further details from JAZA in order to fully appreciate the implications of today's decision.
To view the full PDF of the letter sent to WAZA from JAZA: CLICK HERE
The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) is a global organisation that strives to harmonise the principles, policies, practices and strategy for zoos and aquariums worldwide. Via member regional associations WAZA reaches over 1,300 leading Zoos and Aquariums. WAZA is the unifying representative of the global zoos and aquarium community and works in partnership with international conservation organisations such as IUCN and other non-government organisations to advocate for high standards of animal welfare and to achieve conservation in Zoos and Aquariums and in nature www.waza.org
WAZA Facts and Figures
Attracting more than 700 million visitors a year, the world zoo and aquarium community has the unique potential to attract, inspire and mobilise public engagement for species and habitat conservation. The Biodiversity is Uscampaign allows visitors to make a direct connection between people and wildlife. Zoos and aquariums educate the public on biodiversity conservation, and hence promote environmentally sustainable development and social and political change. Some of the revenue produced by the zoos and aquariums is dedicated to field conservation projects around the world. Collectively, the amount contributed to these efforts by zoos and aquariums matches or surpasses the contributions of other leading global conservation organisations.
With 70% of the world's population living in cities by 2030, zoos and aquariums offer a vital connection to the importance of biodiversity in our lives
Hyatt Antognini Amin, Communications Executive for WAZA
Taiji town mayor Sangen said that He will protect the dolphin hunt which fishermen have legal rights. The town will not be shaken by the decision.
Taiji Whale Museum needs to consider withdrawal or expulsion from JAZA said the Director of Taiji Whale Museum. He also said that he will keep telling JAZA about local effort until the dolphin hunt season starts in September.
8 hours ago, the news broke in Japan that JAZA agreed not to take Dolphins from the hunt
JAZA reached the decision as majority of its members -- consisting of 89 zoos and 63 aquariums -- voted to remain part of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. But its chairman Kazutoshi Arai noted that the outcome did not mean the Japanese organization "rejects drive hunts, which have been promoted by the government."
"We do not think it is cruel to take wild dolphins...but as we have reached this kind of conclusion in relation to WAZA, we need to steer (our policy) toward breeding," Arai told a press conference in Tokyo, admitting that being a member of the global body is especially important for domestic zoos to acquire animals through its network.
If expelled, zoos and aquariums in Japan would have faced difficulty in seeking overseas cooperation for breeding rare animals and other issues.
But remaining in the global body and halting the acceptance of Taiji dolphins is also an issue of vital importance for smaller aquariums that cannot breed dolphins on their own.
Dolphins bred in captivity represent only around 12 or 13 percent of those in Japanese zoos and aquariums, compared with about 70 percent in the United States, according to Arai.
With the life span of dolphins around 30 years, some aquariums could eventually face difficulty operating as they may not be able to find an alternative source of dolphins for their shows. A total of 34 JAZA member facilities rear dolphins, of which at least more than half rely on Taiji as a supplier.
Arai said he estimates it could take roughly "five years or more" to establish breeding skills in the country.
In the vote, in which 142 votes were valid, a total of 99 JAZA members supported remaining in the world body against 43 that voted to leave.
The world association, with a membership comprising over 50 countries and territories, requires all members to "adhere to policies that prohibit participating in cruel and non-selective methods of taking animals from the wild."
Following years of negotiations over the dolphin acquisition issue, the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums suspended JAZA's membership last month, citing violation of the global body's "Code of Ethics and Animal Welfare." It also said the Japanese body would be expelled unless the situation is improved by Thursday.
Arai said JAZA will ask the global body to restore its membership now that it has announced that it will "prohibit its members to acquire wild dolphins caught by drive fishing in Taiji and to take part in their export and sale."
In drive hunting, fishermen capture dolphins by herding them into coves as they bang metal poles against their fishing boats. The practice, however, has spurred international controversy, especially after the Oscar-winning 2009 U.S. documentary film "The Cove" showed the actual slaughter of dolphins during a drive hunt.
Taiji officials have said the method employed has changed since the film was released so as not to cause excessive suffering to dolphins. Local fishermen have also taken steps to address the situation, such as by separately capturing dolphins for edible use and those for aquarium use so that the latter will be caught without being hurt.
But concerns have remained. In January last year, U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy said on Twitter that she was "deeply concerned by inhumaneness of drive hunt dolphin killing" and that the U.S. government opposes such activities.
Taiji Mayor Kazutaka Sangen on Wednesday criticized the global association's labeling of the drive hunt as contravening ethics, saying it has "no clear scientific grounds."
"It is extremely deplorable that the international organization notified the Japanese association about the expulsion. We will continue to preserve our traditional fishery activities by cooperating with related organizations," he said in a statement.
May 20, 2015(Mainichi Japan)
Japanese Aquariums' Link to the Dolphin Slaughter at Taiji
A survey shows that half the dolphins in Japanese facilities are taken from the annual hunts at the cove.
May 19, 2015 By David Kirby
David Kirby has been a professional journalist for 25 years. His third book, Death at Seaworld, was published in 2012.
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Nearly half of the dolphins in Japanese aquariums may have been taken from the dolphin hunts in Taiji, according to a survey in The Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, which reported that a lack of breeding facilities is fueling demand for the mammals.
The newspaper surveyed 33 of the 54 Japanese aquariums that keep dolphins and found that 18 of them bought animals from the Taiji drives. Eight aquariums refused to respond.
“The 33 aquariums keep at least 352 dolphins, of which 158 were captured through drive fishery,” The Yomiuri Shimbun reported. “Some aquariums said all the dolphins they keep are from drive fishery.”
An additional 68 dolphins were captured after being snagged “in a fixed net by accident,” according to the newspaper, while only 42 were bred at aquariums. The article did not specify how the remaining dolphins were acquired.
Critics of the drives say the aquariums are sustaining the Taiji hunt, where entire pods are forced into a small cove and then slaughtered, released, or captured and sold to aquariums in Japan and around the world.
But is captive breeding the best way to reduce demand for live dolphins?
The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums has long demanded that the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums put an end to buying live-caught dolphins, and last month it suspended JAZA’s membership for refusing to do so.
Even zoos belonging to JAZA have criticized the country’s aquariums and said that captive breeding is the way to end the drives.
“Zoos stopped obtaining and exhibiting wild animals some time ago,” one unidentified zoo director told The Yomiuri Shimbun. “We’ve made efforts to breed animals. I think the time has come for aquariums to also change their way of thinking.”
But Ric O’Barry, director of Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project and star of the Oscar-winning documentary on Taiji, The Cove, said captive breeding “is not the solution.”
“One can clearly see that dolphins and other whales suffer and die in captivity,” O’Barry said in an email. “It does not matter if the dolphin was captured from the wild or born in captivity. They suffer equally. The captive dolphins die from the same stress-related diseases whether they were born in captivity or captured from the wild.”
Even if Japanese aquariums wanted to breed dolphins, most of them lack the space for a breeding pool, where mothers can nurse their calves.
As Naomi Rose, marine mammal scientist at the Animal Welfare Institute, pointed out, if aquariums are too small for breeding, they are, by the industry's own standards, too small for dolphins.
Japan Dolphin Hunt Dealt Big Blow
“Rather than recognize that there must be a problem with their facilities, they simply think they should be allowed to continue to source from the drives because otherwise they couldn’t have dolphins,” Rose, who opposes captive breeding, said in an email.
Courtney Vail, program and campaigns manager at Whale and Dolphin Conservation, said changing the way Japanese aquariums operate would be difficult.
“Unless standards improve in Japan, breeding success will be limited,” Vail said in an email. “Anything that removes the incentive for the hunts to continue is a step in the right direction. Of course, we have to be concerned that captures will occur elsewhere around Japan through other methods. Any capture operation is inhumane.”
The Yomiuri ShimbunAt least 18 aquariums nationwide have obtained dolphins captured through drive fishery, a practice that led the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) to suspend the membership of a Japanese industry association last month, a Yomiuri Shimbun survey has found.
The survey indicated that many aquariums in the nation rely on drive fishery, as 33 aquariums keep dolphins nationwide.
Drive fishery involves banging on metal poles in fishing boats and herding sound-sensitive dolphins into coves. WAZA forbids capturing wild animals through brutal means, and concluded that keeping and exhibiting dolphins taken through drive fishery in Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, violates its code of ethics.
WAZA therefore suspended on April 21 the membership of the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA), which comprises 89 zoos and 63 aquariums. If WAZA believes there is no sign of improvement in the situation, it will expel JAZA from the organization as early as Friday.
SLIDE 1 OF 1The Yomiuri Shimbun
Many JAZA officials are concerned about the possible effects of expulsion, as many of them obtain rare animals from foreign countries through their membership in the association. If JAZA decides to take action to avoid expulsion, it is highly likely the nation’s aquariums will no longer be able to obtain dolphins captured through drive fishery.
The Yomiuri Shimbun surveyed JAZA member aquariums about the number of dolphins they keep and how they acquired them.
Of 33 aquariums that keep dolphins, 18 said they purchased dolphins from drive fishery, according to the survey. Eight aquariums refused to answer the question, citing such reasons as “we could be negatively affected if we answer that question.”
The 33 aquariums keep at least 352 dolphins, of which 158 were captured through drive fishery. Some aquariums said all the dolphins they keep are from drive fishery.
Sixty-eight dolphins were captured after they were caught in a fixed net by accident, and 42 were bred at aquariums, according to the survey.
When asked about the pros and cons of breeding and exhibiting dolphins captured through drive fishery, many surveyed aquariums appeared to choose their words carefully before answering. “We can’t easily draw a conclusion about this matter, which could lead to political problems, just like the whaling issue,” said a director at an aquarium in western Japan.
Meanwhile, an official at an aquarium in the Tohoku region insisted on the validity of the fishery method.
“Drive fishery is Japanese culture that has been going on since the olden days. It is the right way, approved by the government,” the official said.
Many facilities avoided making a definite statement over whether they would continue to exhibit dolphins if they became unable to purchase animals obtained through drive fishery.
JAZA is now holding a vote among its member facilities on whether to keep its WAZA membership. Voting will close Tuesday, and JAZA will make its decision, based on the results, at a board meeting Wednesday.
Zoos urge breeding
Numerous zoos in JAZA have called for aquariums to obtain dolphins without depending on drive fishery.
A zoo director in the Chubu region said: “Zoos stopped obtaining and exhibiting wild animals some time ago. We’ve made efforts to breed animals. I think the time has come for aquariums to also change their way of thinking.”
Another zoo director said: “Beyond exhibiting living creatures, zoos and aquariums are also expected to work to conserve species through breeding.”
An official at a Chubu aquarium that does not keep dolphins said the fundamental nature of aquariums has been thrown into question. “I wonder whether it’s OK for aquariums to just be ‘show tents’ featuring a dolphin show,” the official said.
Overseas aquariums in WAZA breed dolphins by themselves, in principle.
However, this is difficult financially for small and midsized aquariums in Japan, as special facilities are needed for breeding. One aquarium official said they had tried breeding eight times in the past 30 years but succeeded only once.
An aquarium director in the Tohoku region said: “It’s important to think about new ways of breeding, such as having dolphins breed at large aquariums equipped with facilities and providing newborn dolphins to small aquariums nearby.” Speech
WAZA Council votes to suspend Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA)
Following years of negotiations over animal acquisition policies, WAZA Council voted unanimously this week to suspend membership of JAZA.
The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) Council voted unanimously this week to suspend the membership of the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA). The decision comes after WAZA and JAZA could not reach agreement on issues involving JAZA member zoos and aquariums taking dolphins from the Japanese drive fishery.
WAZA requires all members to adhere to policies that prohibit participating in cruel and non-selective methods of taking animals from the wild.
For a number of years, WAZA has attempted to work collaboratively with JAZA and its members to stop the collection of animals from the Taiji drives fisheries. Annually the drives draw international attention and criticism for the killing of dolphins and WAZA has previously joined other organizations in speaking out against the practice.
WAZA made ongoing attempts to negotiate the issues including during a meeting in Tokyo last year when WAZA proposed that JAZA enforce a two-year moratorium on taking animals from the drive by its members. The moratorium was rejected by JAZA. The issue was discussed again at WAZA's international conference in November with a goal to influence change in JAZA's position on members accepting animals from the drive fisheries. JAZA responded by proposing some guideline changes that would put restrictions on the method of capturing dolphins and improving animal care, but because it did not restrict taking animals from the drive, WAZA Council concluded that a satisfactory agreement could not be reached and voted to suspend the Japanese association’s membership.
The basis for the suspension is a determination that JAZA has violated the WAZA Code of Ethics and Animal Welfare. Moreover, WAZA Council re-affirmed its position that members of WAZA must confirm that they will not acquire dolphins from the Taiji fishery.
WAZA’s mission is to serve as the voice of a worldwide community of zoos and aquariums and a catalyst for their joint conservation action. One of the ways WAZA accomplishes this mission is through promoting cooperation between national and regional associations. It is important to note that WAZA still remains committed to continuing discussions with JAZA and its members in an effort to end the loss of animal life through the drive fisheries.
The world’s top zoo association suspends Japan for not stopping the Taiji dolphin slaughter.
April 23, 2015 By David Kirby
David Kirby has been a professional journalist for 25 years. His third book, Death at Seaworld, was published in 2012.
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The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums Council this week suspended the membership of the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums because the organization has refused to stop the annual killing of dolphins at the cove in Taiji, Japan.
For years, animal rights activists have pressured WAZA to sanction Japanese zoos and aquariums because the Taiji hunt not only kills hundreds of dolphins each year but also fuels the captive dolphin industry. The animals captured at the cove are often sold at a premium to aquariums around the world.
“WAZA requires all members to adhere to policies that prohibit participating in cruel and non-selective methods of taking animals from the wild,” WAZA said in statement. “JAZA has violated the WAZA Code of Ethics and Animal Welfare. “
Since 2000, the annual hunt, which runs from September through mid-April, has caused the deaths of roughly 18,000 dolphins. Most are butchered on-site for food, despite the high mercury concentrations found dolphin meat. The youngest and cutest are spared death but sold to marine-mammal facilities in Russia, the Middle East, Latin America, the Caribbean, and East Asia. These dolphins can fetch upwards of $125,000 each.
Although WAZA has officially condemned the Taiji dolphin hunts for years, until now it had declined to take direct action against the Japanese group.
WAZA officials said there have been ongoing attempts to resolve the issue, including a proposal put to JAZA in 2014 that it enforce a two-year moratorium on taking Taiji dolphins. JAZA, however, rejected the idea.
The announcement took many animal-rights activists by surprise.
“We congratulate and applaud WAZA Council for doing the right thing,” Ric O’Barry, star of the documentary The Cove and head of Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project, said in a statement. “Their credibility with their peers has been destroyed. This is a big win for all wild dolphins swimming past the shores of Taiji.”
“Now that JAZA has been suspended and isolated from their own industry, they will be reduced to renegades if they continue to traffic in dolphins,” O’Barry said in an email.
Ric O'Barry leads a protest at the WAZA headquarters in Switzerland, demanding the group suspend JAZA for allowing the dolphin drive to continue.
The Dolphin Project was the first to demand that WAZA enforce its own code of ethics, O’Barry said. Last year, he and Sakae Hemmi, of the Japanese conservation group Elsa Nature Conservancy, met with Gerald Dick, WAZA’s executive director, about suspending JAZA’s membership status. Those talks ended in a stalemate.
The Taiji dolphin slaughter has received global condemnation over the years, including from the Caroline Kennedy, the United States ambassador to Japan. In January 2014, Kennedy tweeted, “Deeply concerned by inhumaneness of drive hunt dolphin killing. USG [U.S. government] opposes drive hunt fisheries.”
The Unseen Slaughter Under the Sea
Despite JAZA’s suspension, it was not immediately clear whether the Japanese group will take action to end the Taiji dolphin drives and cut off the supply of live animals to aquariums, many of them in Japan.
But that certainly remains a possibility.
“It is important to note that WAZA still remains committed to continuing discussions with JAZA and its members,” WAZA said, “in an effort to end the loss of animal life through the drive fisheries.”
World Association of Zoos and Aquariums takes action against Japanese member representing aquariums that take dolphins from Taiji hunt
The world’s leading zoo organisation has suspended its Japanese member over its involvement in the controversial dolphin hunts in Taiji.
The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (Waza) has suspended the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (Jaza) following a unanimous vote by its council.
As revealed by the Guardian last month, Waza has been targeted in a court action launched by conservationists who accuse it of effectively approving the dolphin hunts, where animals are forced into shallow waters and some slaughtered or picked for public display in aquariums.
The Taiji dolphin hunts gained notoriety through the documentary The Cove. Jaza, which represents Japanese aquariums that have taken dolphins from the hunt, rejected a Waza proposal for a two-year moratorium on the practice.
“Jaza responded by proposing some guideline changes that would put restrictions on the method of capturing dolphins and improving animal care, but because it did not restrict taking animals from the drive, Waza council concluded that a satisfactory agreement could not be reached and voted to suspend the Japanese association’s membership,” Waza said in a statement.
“The basis for the suspension is a determination that Jaza has violated the Waza code of ethics and animal welfare. Moreover, Waza council reaffirmed its position that members of Waza must confirm that they will not acquire dolphins from the Taiji fishery.”
Over the past five years, observers say, more than 5,000 dolphins have been killed at Taiji, with a further 750 captured for aquariums. Since a August 2014 agreement that put in place a one-month moratorium on the killings, 751 dolphins have been killed, with 41 bottlenose dolphins captured.
The suspension has been welcomed by conservationists, who claim Jaza has been acting as a rogue member while Waza stood on the sidelines despite publicly opposing dolphin hunts. Waza has also come under pressure from several of its zoo members over the issue.
Australia for Dolphins has lodged court action in Geneva, where Waza has its headquarters, in an attempt to force the organisation to sanction members in Japan and Korea accused of taking dolphins from the drive hunt.
“This is a very promising step and an acknowledgement that Waza needs to enforce its own code of ethics,” said Sarah Lucas, chief executive of Australia for Dolphins.
“Jaza are suspended rather than expelled but the threat of expulsion will be looming over them and they will know the world’s leading zoos body will be watching them closely if they don’t improve.”
“We want Waza to enforce that code of ethics across the board so we’ll be continuing the legal action. We also want Waza to take action against zoos that are abusing animals, such as chaining and beating elephants. The reputation of Waza has been hurt by this and I hope this is a start of a new era for them.”
Waza has more than 20 associate members, including Jaza and the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, as well as 300 individual zoo members, including London Zoo, the Zoological Society of San Diego, Toronto Zoo, Bronx Zoo and Melbourne Zoo.
A spokeswoman for Melbourne Zoo said the organisation condemned the Taiji dolphin hunts.
“Those bodies that are in some way linked to the slaughter, either as customers for the meat, or for the live animals themselves, are complicit in the slaughter,” she said.
“We welcome the suspension of Jaza from the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. We acknowledge the efforts of the Waza council in trying to convince Jaza to stop their involvement in Taiji. We also call on Jaza members to cease any involvement in the Taiji hunt.”
Marine conservation activists Sea Shepherd also welcomed the suspension of Jaza for its “role in Taiji’s horrific massacre of wild cetaceans”.
A statement on Sea Shepherd’s website said: “While we are elated to hear this long-overdue announcement, we also stand in firm opposition to the confinement of highly intelligent and socially complex whales and dolphins in captivity at Waza aquariums, swim-with-dolphin programs and other captive facilities that continue to drive the demand for captive dolphins, and the wild captures still occurring around the world.
“These highly intelligent, sentient and socially complex marine mammals belong in the open ocean where they can engage in their natural behaviours and live in their natural family groups – not performing tricks for food in concrete bathtubs while being subjected to loud music and noisy crowds.”
YES! World Zoo Association Ends Japan’s Membership
A few short weeks ago Japan’s aspirations to re-commence “scientific” whaling in the Southern Ocean suffered a setback. The IWC rejected its proposal, claiming there was inadequate justification for lethal research.
Now the nation has suffered another major international embarrassment. It has been thrown out of the world’s leading zoo association over its connection to dolphin hunting.
As a result of legal action initiated last month by animal welfare charity Australia for Dolphins, the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) has suspended its Japanese member (JAZA) for allowing aquariums to purchase dolphins from the Taiji dolphin hunts.
The Power of Activism to Help Dolphins
Advocates are heralding this latest win as the beginning of the end for dolphin hunting in Japan.
According to the CEO of Australia for Dolphins, Sarah Lucas, “The suspension of JAZA following AFD’s legal action is great news. It is a significant first step towards ending the horrific annual dolphin hunts in Taiji.
“Up to 40 percent of total demand for Taiji dolphins comes from WAZA network aquariums. This is a major blow to the world’s largest dolphin trade, and another nail in the coffin for the Taiji hunts,” according to a press release issued by WAZA, the decision to suspend JAZA was the result of a unanimous vote. “The basis for the suspension is a determination that JAZA has violated the WAZA Code of Ethics and Animal Welfare.The decision comes after WAZA and JAZA could not reach agreement on issues involving JAZA member zoos and aquariums taking dolphins from the Japanese drive fishery. WAZA requires all members to adhere to policies that prohibit participating in cruel and non-selective methods of taking animals from the wild.”
And cruel is definitely an apt word to describe what goes on in Taiji, where scores of dolphins are brutally stabbed to death using metal rods every year. In the last 70 years, it is estimated that over a million dolphins and small whales have been killed in direct hunts in Japan – while hundreds more have been captured and shipped all around the world for display.
Australia for Dolphins insists that in spite of this win, legal action against WAZA will continue to go ahead as planned. The first hearing is due to take place next month.
Hope for Other Animals
“This is only the first step,” states Lucas. “WAZA needs to do more. It still has members in Korea that source dolphins from the Taiji drive hunts. Not to mention other members around the world that engage in terrible acts of animal cruelty, such as chaining and beating elephants.”
The above allegations are reflective of a steady stream of photos and videos showing shocking neglect and abuse at WAZA member zoos, which has emerged following legal action against the organization.
The footage includes a baby elephant being beaten with a stick in India, dolphins performing tricks in a filthy green pool in Indonesia, and a terrified baby bear being placed in a lion’s cage in South Korea as part of a televised stunt.
“We’re asking WAZA to enforce it’s own Code of Ethics and Animal Welfare across the board,” states Lucas, “which would benefit thousands of animals suffering from cruelty and neglect all around the world.”
At the moment, JAZA is only suspended. It will need to clean up its act and stop members purchasing Taiji dolphins if it wants to avoid expulsion, along with global condemnation.
April 22, 2015 by Mark Palmer, Save Japan Dolphins
By Mark J. Palmer
International Marine Mammal Project
Earth Island Institute
The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) announced today that they have expelled the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums due to JAZA's insistence on sourcing dolphins for their aquariums from the horrific drive hunts in Taiji, as depicted in the hit documentary The Cove.
Earth Island’s Save Japan Dolphins Campaign and many other organizations have been pushing WAZA for years to enforce its so-called Code of Ethics and Animal Welfare. Recently, our colleagues with Australia for Dolphins filed a lawsuit in Switzerland against WAZA for falsely claiming it opposed the practice when its associate member JAZA was blatantly violating the welfare of dolphins.
This is a big victory for the supporters of ending the dolphin drive hunts, which are heavily subsidized by the sale of “show quality” dolphins from the hunts to aquariums throughout Japan and in many other countries as well. The Taiji Whale Museum, owned by the town government of Taiji and a principle exporter of Taiji dolphins, is a member of JAZA.
WAZA, in a press release, stated that they had negotiated for many years with JAZA to end the practice of catching live dolphins from the Taiji dolphin drive hunt, but finally concluded they could not reach agreement with JAZA on the issue.
It has been many years since groups and individuals across the globe have been demanding that WAZA dump members like JAZA who are acting in ways that violate WAZA's Code of Ethics. Despite WAZA member aquariums' continued exploitation of captive cetaceans, it is at least acting to reverse the linking of catching cetaceans in the wild to bloody dolphin drive hunts that kill thousands of dolphins. It is an important step for WAZA, and let us hope it will mean more reforms to end the killing, captures, and captivity of dolphins for good.
The question now is whether this decision will have any affect on JAZA? Will it serve as a wake-up call to the organization? Will the Japanese government and industry leaders take a serious look at the hunts, now that WAZA has condemned them as cruel? Will the Taiji hunters face increased scrutiny? Or will they dig in their heels and continue to destroy entire families of dolphins, all in the name of profit?
Only time will tell. Continued pressure is needed on JAZA, on the Japanese government, and on the Taiji dolphin hunters.
A BIG THANK YOU to all who worked to see WAZA take action at last.
The world’s leading zoo organization last week announced it has lost patience with Japan’s continued use of dolphins from the fisheries drives at Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, and suspended its Japanese member from its roster.
The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) has made numerous attempts to stop Japanese aquariums from taking cetaceans from the Taiji drives, which are undertaken for several months each fall and frequently garner international criticism.
As recently as last summer, WAZA officials made an appeal in Tokyo, recommending its Japanese member implement a two-year moratorium on member organizations taking from the drives. The issue was discussed again during WAZA’s annual international conference in November.
While the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA) has since proposed restrictions on the method of capturing dolphins, it has not restricted its members from taking animals from the drive, WAZA said.
“WAZA council concluded that a satisfactory agreement could not be reached and voted to suspend the Japanese association’s membership,” said Hyatt Antognini Amin, a WAZA spokesman. “The council also reaffirmed its position that WAZA members must confirm they will not acquire dolphins from the Taiji fishery.”
The governing body of zoos worldwide requires “all members to adhere to policies that prohibit participating in cruel and nonselective methods of taking animals from the wild.”
The dolphin hunts were brought to international attention in 2009 following the release of “The Cove,” a documentary that went on to win a best Oscar gong in 2010. In recent years, the killing activities have been shielded from public view.
The Taiji culls are widely considered to be both cruel and selective. The method used involves banging metal pipes underwater from fishing boats to confuse the animals’ sensitive sonar.
Species more prized as “show dolphins” for aquariums, which can fetch tens of thousands of dollars, are trapped in nets, while the remainder are impaled with metal spears behind the blowhole to sever the spinal cord.
In 2010, a Japanese study claimed this method was more humane than the more random hurling of harpoons from fishing boats employed previously in Taiji’s drive hunts. In 2013, however, a study by scientists in Britain and the U.S. refuted those claims, saying that analysis of the method showed it failed to “fulfill the internationally recognized requirement for immediacy.”
JAZA’s Kensho Nagai said the organization has explained its “circumstances” in some detail, but WAZA “has not been able to fully comprehend them.”
“The method being employed in Japan to catch dolphins is recognized by the Japanese government and it is from places following government-ratified fishing methods that aquariums are buying dolphins,” Nagai said.
The method used to catch dolphins that are used in aquariums and zoos nationwide is very different than the one used to catch dolphins that are used for food, he added. “Despite this,” he said, “the two methods are seen as being one and the same thing.”
Dolphins fished for aquariums “are handled with extreme care” and “are exposed to zero stress” by the Taiji fishermen, Nagai said.
WAZA failed to respond to a request for comment on Nagai’s claims.
What impact the suspension will have is uncertain, especially due to a seeming lack of concern about the Taiji drives in Japan.
Toshiaki Morioka, a member of nongovernment organization Action For Marine Mammals, said “most Japanese don’t know the facts” about the slaughters.
“If they did, I think most would be against it,” Morioka said. “It is symbol of a pathology in Japanese society that this news is rarely mentioned in the Japanese media.”
Morioka says JAZA ignores the global trend to reduce numbers of both dolphins and aquariums, but hopes the suspension will serve as a wake-up call for JAZA to reconsider the way the animals are handled, distributed and sold.
Asked if JAZA would consider pushing member aquariums to purchase dolphins from places other than Taiji, Nagai pointed to a dearth of alternatives.
“The chances of that happening are next to zero,” he said.
Fishermen corner dolphins in a bay near the town of Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, in 2011. | KYODO
Victory! World’s Top Zoo Association Kicks Japan Out Over Cruel Dolphin Drives
This week, animal advocates are celebrating news that the world’s top zoo association has finally suspended its Japanese member over its ties with the brutal dolphin drives that take place every year in Taiji.
Conservationists have been working for years to get the World Association for Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) to take a meaningful stand against member facilities that support the live capture of dolphins, but it had yet to take any real action until now.
WAZA announced that after failing to reach an agreement regarding its policies addressing the acquisition of animals, it voted unanimously to suspend the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA) because of its continued involvement with controversial drive hunts.
Whale and dolphin advocates have brought these hunts into the public’s view, most notably with the award-winning documentary “The Cove,” and have raised international outrage over the mass slaughter and captures of dolphins that continue to take place annually.
While thousands are butchered and sold for their meat, more are torn from their families and sold to zoos and aquariums for public display. Many have continued to argue that if it weren’t for the money brought in by sales for captivity, the drives would have ended by now.
WAZA has said it condemns the drives and is not involved in any way, but it had continued to allow JAZA to violate its Code of Ethics and Animal Welfare without consequence. Now JAZA is finally being held accountable.
WAZA said in a statement that it “requires all members to adhere to policies that prohibit participating in cruel and non-selective methods of taking animals from the wild.” It added: “The basis for the suspension is a determination that JAZA has violated the WAZA Code of Ethics and Animal Welfare. Moreover, WAZA Council re-affirmed its position that members of WAZA must confirm that they will not acquire dolphins from the Taiji fishery.”
“We congratulate and applaud WAZA Council for doing the right thing,” said the Dolphin Project‘s Ric O’Barry. “Their credibility with their peers has been destroyed. This is a big win for all wild dolphins swimming past the shores of Taiji.”
The suspension also comes on the heels of a lawsuit that was filed last month by Australia for Dolphins (AFD), which hoped to get WAZA to uphold its Code of Ethics, or give JAZA the boot.
“The suspension of JAZA following AFD’s legal action is great news. It is a significant first step towards ending the horrific annual dolphin hunts in Taiji,” said Sarah Lucas, CEO of AFD. “Up to 40% of total demand for Taiji dolphins comes from WAZA network aquariums. WAZA’s decision to suspend its Japanese member for involvement in the hunts is a major blow to the world’s largest dolphin trade.”
According to AFD, JAZA facilities are home to more than 600 dolphins, while more half of JAZA’s 65 members acquire dolphins from the Taiji drive hunts. Whale and Dolphin Conservation, which is also applauding the move, added that since 2004, over 1,200 dolphins caught in the hunts have been sent to dolphinaria in Japan and other countries, including the United Arab Emirates, South Korea, China, Iran, Palau, the Philippines and Turkey.
AFD says it will continue with its legal action on behalf of dolphins who end up in other countries and, following the exposure of other serious abuses last month, hopes to get WAZA to enforce its animal welfare policies at all of its member facilities.
While the announcement is a huge step towards ending the drive hunts, captivity itself is still a major problem for dolphins and cetaceans. The demand won’t end until we stop supporting facilities that keep them.
Now that JAZA has been expelled by WAZA for violating their code of ethics as they continue to source dolphins from the cruel Taiji hunts, we call on the Japanese government to disallow the transportation of any dolphins from Taiji to JAZA facilities. We demand the Japanese government to permanently halt both the slaughter and trade in live dolphins, release the dolphin Angel into a seapen, and stop insisting that the hunts are a cultural tradition, as this has been proven false.
WAZA - STOP Supporting Facilities Involved in Animal Cruelty
♥︎WAZA, Thank you action to Dolphins and all Animals♥︎
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