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Fact Sheet - Japan's Annual Dolphin Hunt      

Japan's Annual Dolphin Hunt

The dolphin slaughtering season in Taiji, a small coastal town in Japan, normally lasts from September through to March each year.  During this time, pods of dolphins and small whales are herded into a shallow cove by fishermen in small boats where they are brutally killed with a sharp metal rod. The best specimens will be kept alive and sold to marine parks and aquariums where their fate is grim, separated from their families and sentenced to life of confinement in a concrete tank.  Others are used for meat, pet food or fertilizer.  Studies have shown dolphin meat contains high levels of mercury and is not suitable for consumption.  Unfortunately, dolphin meat is still sold in Japan despite the risks, and without any warning from the government.

The Taiji dolphin hunts continue because the fishermen make immense profits from selling some of their victims to the captive dolphin industry.  Government officials also allow the hunt because they claim that the dolphins are pests who eat too much of the fish stocks around Taiji.  Japanese officials have defended the slaughter and capture as their cultural right, retorting that others eat beef and hunt animals for sport, but the hunts only began in 1969 and are heavily subsidised by the sale of live trained dolphins to aquariums.  The Taiji hunt, whilst the most notorious, is one of a number of hunts of dolphins and small whales conducted in Japanese waters.  In any one year, in combination, these hunts may claim the lives of some 20,000 cetaceans.  The popularity of the 2009 documentary, “The Cove,” which exposes the mass slaughter has dramatically raised awareness of this issue globally.  These drive hunts have been brought into the public eye as never before, yet they still continue.  In the end, we must act together to make sure that the government of Japan, who are ultimately responsible for the killings, are well aware that these highly intelligent marine mammals deserve better and the cruelty is unacceptable.

The Shire of Broome in Australia currently has a sister-city relationship with Taiji, Japan, condoning the dolphin hunt.  Please contact them using the details below, calling on them to terminate this relationship with Taiji until the dolphin slaughter is abolished.


Dolphins used in travelling circuses in Indonesia are transported around the country once a month by plane, and made to endure up to 40 hours travelling in a tiny dry crate.  Our friends at Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN) filmed the horrendous practice and are calling for such methods to be banned.

Help dolphins by asking Sriwijaya Air to stop transporting live dolphins for travelling circuses in Indonesia.  Click here to take action now. 


There are a number of actions you can take to help put pressure on the Japanese government, Japanese officials and authorities to let them know that this mass slaughter must stop.  Please use the contact details below to help save these incredible animals from more cruelty.

Prime Minister Shinz┼Ź Abe,
Cabinet Office, Government of Japan
1-6-1 Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8914, JAPAN
Tel: +81-3-5253-2111
Online Comment Form: https://www.kantei.go.jp/foreign/forms/comment_ssl.html
Online Comment/Question for Cabinet Office: https://form.cao.go.jp/kokusai/en_opinion-0001.html
Website: http://www.kantei.go.jp/foreign/index-e.html

Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
1-2-1 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8950, JAPAN
Tel:  +81-3-3502-8111
Contact Form:https://www.contact.maff.go.jp/maff/form/114e.html
Website: http://www.maff.go.jp/e/index.html

Ambassador Sumio Kusaka
Embassy of Japan, Canberra
112 Empire Circuit, Yarralumla ACT 2600
Tel:  +61 2 6273 3244
Website: http://www.au.emb-japan.go.jp/index.html 

Kazutaka Sangen – Taiji Mayor
Email: zeimu@town.taiji.lg.jp
Tel: +81-73-559-2335

Tel: +81-73-559-2340

703-15 Moriura, Taiji-cho, Higashimuro-gun,
Wakayama Prefecture 649-5172, JAPAN
Tel: +81-0735-59-3514

Cr Ron Johnston
Email: councillor.johnston@broome.wa.gov.au 
Shire President, PO Box 31, Broome WA 6725 

For regular updates and live footage from Taiji, visit the Facebook page for Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians (official) and Ric O'Barry's Dolphin Project who both document events on the ground during the hunting season (September to March).

To Download a PDF Version of this Fact Sheet, please use the link below:
HSI Fact Sheet - Japan's Annual Dolphin Hunt Download PDF (161 kB)

Photo (above) - Credit: George Clerk (iStock)

Web: AndreasLustig.com