In mid-2009, the tiny Japanese fishing village of Taiji found itself at the center of the international controversy over dolphin hunting when it was featured in the Oscar-winning documentary “The Cove.” The film, which showed disturbing images of an annual dolphin slaughter in Taiji, brought international attention to the town of just over 3,000. Now, almost three years after The Cove was released, Taiji officials have announced plans to open a marine mammal park where visitors can swim with dolphins and small whales — but there are still no plans to stop the annual dolphin slaughter.
The planned marine park calls for putting up a net at the entrance to Moriura Bay in northwestern Taiji, according to the Agence France-Presse, sectioning off a roughly 69-acre pool. Bottlenose dolphins and black whales caught near town would be released into the pool, which would be part of a larger “marine safari park.” The town hopes to launch the project, which would also include beaches and mudlfats, within five years.
“We want to send out the message that the town is living together with whales,” Taiji Mayor Kazutaka Sangen, said, according to the Jiji Press news agency. That message would probably be better sent by putting a stop to the town’s annual dolphin slaughter, which continues despite international pressure brought on by The Cove. Every September, fishermen in Taiji corral dolphins into a cove where a few are chosen for aquariums, and the rest are stabbed to death for food, leaving the cove red from blood. According to the AFP, the town caught 928 dolphins in 2011. An anonymous town official told the AFP that the Taiji ”is no way going to stop” the annual dolphin hunt.
Images via The Cove