Dolphins in captivity
JAZA stops the live capure from the dolphin drives
On Wednesday May 20, 2015, Kazutoshi Arai, head of the JAZA (Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums) announced at the press conference in Tokyo that 99 of its member facilities voted to remain in WAZA, while 43 supported leaving. Based on this results, JAZA decided to ban its members from buying dolphins captured through the drive hunt.
Statement of the joint body of 5 Japanese NGOs for the protection of animals
Endorsing the decision of the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA) to abandon the capture of live dolphin from the drive hunts
~an issue of JAZA’s membership suspension by the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) ~
Over 170 Japanese groups concerned with the welfare of animals have been working towards ending the live capture of wild dolphins from the drive hunts in Taiji and elsewhere in Japan. Amongst these many organizations, we five (see below) have played a central role in the recent, welcome decision by the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA), and we will continue to work on the questions that remain in its aftermath.
On April 21, the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) announced that it had suspended the JAZA from its ranks, and that it would expel them in 1 month unless member aquariums stopped procuring live dolphins from the drive hunts. WAZA took this action 11 years after determined their official position opposing the drive hunting of wild dolphins in Japan at their meeting in Taipei in 2004. In response, JAZA has announced that, based on a majority vote of its member zoos and aquariums, it has decided no longer to allow its members to procure live dolphins from the drive hunts.
Whatever its internal perspective or intent may be, JAZA has made a clear international declaration acknowledging that the live capture of dolphins in the drive hunts violates the WAZA Code of Ethics, and is contrary to the welfare of animals. The implications of this decision are significant, and we expect them to have a far ranging impact on the future of the dolphin drive hunts. According to WAZA, its opposition is not only to the procurement of dolphins through the drive hunt by JAZA aquariums, but also non-member aquariums. In the aftermath of JAZA’s decision, non-member aquariums are also likely to come under international scrutiny. Furthermore, the actions of WAZA make it clear that, while legal in Japan, the dolphin drive hunts are not considered ethical in the rest of the world. It could be said that the practice of Japanese aquaria that consume wild animals obtained by the drive hunt itself is being questioned in the international arena through these decisions. Through their recent actions WAZA have set the stage for an ongoing international discussion about the dolphin drive hunt as a practice that flouts the ideals of animal welfare.
Our joint body of 5 animal welfare NGOs wishes to take this opportunity to entreat not only the aquariums of Japan, but also our government, to face the reality of international opinion and discontinue the out dated (and inhumane) practice of dolphin drive hunting. We wish to express our hope that this news helps the many visitors to Japan’s zoos and aquariums understand where the captive dolphins come from, how they were obtained and what kind of life they are forced to live in captivity. We hope recent events will provide an opportunity for further discussions about prioritizing the welfare of animals in considering the future of zoos and aquariums.