As soon as this violation was discovered, four NGOs including Elsa Nature Conservancy pointed out the violations and requested the Futo FCA to stop the capturing immediately. However, five dolphins were slaughtered in the late afternoon on the 21st, and a full scale slaughter of the dolphins and whales began on the 22nd. We protested continuously to the Futo FCA, the local government of Shizuoka prefecture and the National Fishery Agency to stop further killing and release the dolphins and whales which were still alive. Strong support from abroad was the source of our energy as well as very strong pressure on the government and the aquariums. Yielding to the internal and external pressure of civilian environment and animal conservation organizations and strong protests by many people, the local government of Shizuoka and the Futo FCA reluctantly admitted the violation, and the fishermen themselves released over 100 dolphins and whales in the harbor by removing the nets at the entrance of the harbor on October 23. About one week later, on October 31, all of the six false killer whales which had been taken into aquariums were released from the Futo harbor, although with unsatisfactory methods.
Events like these have never occurred in the history of Japan. Especially epoch-making were the facts that the action alert was initiated by Japanese NGOs and that the government and the fishermen made a compromise with the NGOs. The pressure of protesting messages from foreign supporters also helped the outcome.
This incident left two important assets. One was that it revealed a grave cheating by our government about the coastal dolphin and whale hunting. As the quota system is actually a voluntary regulation and not a true law, even if the fishermen violate it, they can evade punishment. On the other hand, there has never been a government agency to watch whether the regulation is kept correctly or not. Worse than that, our government uses this quota system to evade the criticism of over-hunting of dolphins in our coastal waters at the IWC meeting. The other asset was that many NGO's and individuals in Japan have expressed an interest in this issue and have worked with us. Together we were able to draw the attention of the public and the mass media to the dolphin capture. Moreover, criticism against aquariums has begun and the unity between people who are working for animal welfare has become stronger than ever before.
We believe the success of this rising movement, which includes the Japanese younger generation for the first time, will greatly affect the future of our campaign to save dolphins and whales.
© Copyright 1997, Cetacean Society International, Inc.
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