"Cove" Town Suspends Dolphin Slaughter

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September 11, 2009—The Japanese town made infamous by the movie The Cove has temporarily suspended its hunt. The annual Taiji hunt claims around 2,000 dolphins, killed by hand after being herded into a shallow cove.

© 2009 National Geographic (AP)

The Japanese town chronicled in the award-winning film "The Cove" for its annual dolphin hunt that turns coastal waters red with blood has suspended killing the animals, at least for this week's catch, following an international outcry.

The western Japanese town of Taiji (TAH-ee-jee) will sell some of the dolphins to aquariums as it does every year, but the remainder of the 100 bottlenose dolphins that were caught early on Wednesday in the first catch of the season will be released.

Traditionally, theyre captured and most are then killed and sold for meat.

While Japan officially declares that the move had nothing to do with the protests, an official at the Taiji fisheries association, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said on Thursday that the decision was made partly in response to the international outcry created by "The Cove."

SOUNDBITE (English) Ric O'Barry, Earth Island Institute and Lead Character, "The Cove": "Well it seems as though the town of Taiji is responding to the world community, asking that this dolphin slaughter stop and today they implemented a no-dolphin-slaughter policy, so that is cause for great celebration. Not only for dolphins and whales but for Japanese people who are being contaminated by this product." Dolphin meat is consumed as a delicacy in Japan, and hunts date back thousands of years. Meat from one dolphin fetches about $500 US dollars but dolphins can be sold to aquariums for 10 to 20 times that price, with some kinds going for as much as 150-thousand US dollars.

Under the International Whaling Commissions ban on whaling, hunting for dolphins and small whales is still permitted, but draws sharp criticism from activists around the world.

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