The controversial sale of dolphins caught in the cruel Taiji Cove drive hunts in Japan has led two aquariums to cancel their memberships with the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA).
In 2015, the Association decided to forbid members from taking dolphins captured alive in the brutal hunt. As a result, the two aquariums (Enoshima Aquarium in Fujisawa and Shimonoseki Marine Science Museum in Kaikyokan) have cancelled their JAZA membership.
JAZA banned members from acquiring Taiji dolphins following advice from the wider, global body – World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which threatened JAZA with expulsion following growing international criticism surrounding the hunts.
The decision left the 89 zoos and 63 aquariums in JAZA no choice but to stop buying dolphins from Taiji.
The hunts begin each year in September and involve the herding of dolphins at sea and driving and corralling them into the confines of the cove in Taiji. Here they are slaughtered for meat or kept alive for sale to marine parks and aquaria across the globe. Thousands of dolphins and whales are killed or taken alive each year and include species such as bottlenose dolphins, false killer whales and short-finned pilot whales.
Enoshima Aquarium said it withdrew to maintain ties with the local fishermen’s union in Taiji, whilst the Shimonoseki marine museum said it could not accept JAZA’s ban because it believes drive hunts are a legitimate practice.