28 April 2011
Dolphin Hunting: Will the Japanese take Flipper off the menu?
The Japanese public has developed a mischievous reputation with the rest of the world over the past 100 years. They are notorious for going against the grain of modern society and tend to be rather impulsive during international disputes. There are many neighboring countries of Japan that oppose the actions of these “whalers”. The tension that the Japanese have created within the fishing trade by slaughtering dolphins is leading them into a downward spiral. This seems to be the current path that the United States are headed down as well in regards to the illegal hunting, slaughtering, and production of dolphins for their meat and fins. The Japanese people who are involved in this trade believe that hunting dolphins is a significant aspect of their culture. They see their brutal actions as an ancient tradition that must be carried on, even at the cost of diminishing the already struggling dolphin populations. Obviously, the Japanese have resentment issues contingent to outsiders attempting facilitation of their actions. This is completely understandable; however, the Japanese must realize the magnitude of the compulsory repercussions that correlate with committing genocide of an almost endangered mammal species. Essentially 100 percent of Japan’s dolphin slaughter is carried out in tiny coves off the coast in a town called Taiji, in Japan’s Higashimuro District. According to Justin McCurry of The Guardian, “the fisherman of Taiji successfully lure up to 100 bottlenose dolphins into these coves daily, harpoon, shoot, and stab them to death”. It is a problem that has ultimately become an immense burden on the Japanese public as a whole. Without taking proper affirmative action to address this problem in the near future, there will arise serious repercussions not only for the dwindling dolphin populations and the Japanese public, but also the rest of the world’s population. The distribution of illegally acquired dolphin meat throughout the Japanese population will only add to the terrible effects of the initial wrongdoing of the Japanese fishermen. Whaling originated in Japanese waters as early as the 12th century. However, the commercial hunting of dolphins superseded with little warning by the beginning of the 20th century. The switch was most likely due to the elevating demand for the fins of certain species of dolphins, as well as the meat they provide to the people of Japan. The Japanese fishermen of modern day are a product of many generations, realizing that there was a larger possibility for profit involved in selling the fins of dolphins’ to locations such as museums along with distributing the meat to markets throughout the population of Taiji. This small town has become the processing center for all illegal acts related to the slaughter of dolphins. It has always been a community that relied heavily on fishing but in recent years, there have been countless underground operations taken on. Where there is conflict there is also usually some kind of judicial system in place. Hence, the United States was quick to establish the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in August 1946 to address the expanding ethical conflicts that large numbers of Americans had with the actions of the Japanese whalers. According to Mark Palmer of Earth Island Journal, “In September, for the first time, fishermen in Taiji released 70 bottlenose dolphins after catching and retaining around 10 to 15 for aquariums” (21-22). This was ultimately a huge step for the American-run IWC and Richard O’Barry, the organization’s front man. The IWC and O’Barry have been directly involved in the conflict with Japanese whaling industries since the commercial ban on whaling and dolphin hunting was passed in 1986. This seems to be the major reason why the IWC is handling the Taiji dolphin situation so stubbornly. Following the ban, the...