Taiji in Japan became is famous as the ‘Killing Cove’ where each year thousands of dolphins are killed, with hundreds shipped to dolphin parks around the world. Now, the town plans to open its own dolphin attraction (from the Telegraph)
Now, the Japanese town Taiji has unveiled controversial new plans to open a marine park where visitors can swim with dolphins – while the annual hunt of the animals continues in a nearby bay.
Town officials have outlined plans to section off part of the cove and transform it into an entertainment spot where people can swim and kayak alongside small whales and dolphins.
However, they were quick to emphasise that the establishment of the park was not a result of pressure from conservationists keen to end the annual dolphin hunt, but was aimed at helping to sustain the practice, according to AFP.
“We already use dolphins and small whales as a source of tourism in the cove where dolphin-hunting takes place,” said Masaki Wada, a local government official. “In summer swimmers can enjoy watching the mammals that are released from a partitioned-off space.
“But we plan to do it on a larger scale. This is part of Taiji’s long-term plan of making the whole town a park, where you can enjoy watching marine mammals while tasting various marine products, including whale and dolphin meat.”
The town’s plans consist of the establishment of a whale safari park spanning around 69 acres to open within five years, with a net installed at the entrance to a bay in the northwest of Taiji.
Not far away, however, is Hatakejiri Bay, where the fishermen of Taiji regularly turn the waters pink as they lure dolphins into nets before they are slaughtered. The dolphin-hunting practice dates back 400 years and is fiercely protected by locals as an important whaling and culinary tradition which they argue is no different from killing cattle.
The town was cast into the spotlight – and international controversy – when the practice was captured in graphic detail in the popular 2009 documentary The Cove, resulting in widespread criticism. Plans to open a marine park were quickly condemned as exploitative and “unfortunate” for the town by environmental activists, who frequently visit Taiji to protest agains the slaughter.
Nanami Kurasawa, the secretary general of Iruka & Kujira (Dolphin & Whale) Action Network, said: “The whole plan is based on the concept that they can exploit dolphins and whales freely as their resource, but the mammals don’t belong to Taiji.
“Marine mammals migrate across oceans, and internationally public opinion is that wildlife should be allowed to live as they are. The plan will only ignite more protests over dolphin-hunting.”