Japan aquariums say they’ll stop getting Taiji-hunt dolphins

By Yuri Kageyama, AP

TOKYO–Japan’s aquariums promised Wednesday to stop acquiring dolphins captured in a bloody hunt that was depicted in the Oscar-winning documentary ��The Cove�� and has caused global outrage.

The move by the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums follows a decision last month by the Swiss-based umbrella group World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, or WAZA, to suspend the Japanese organization’s membership.

WAZA characterized the Taiji hunt as ��cruel,�� and decided that none of its members should acquire dolphins in such a way.

In that hunt, dolphins are scared with banging, herded into a cove and speared by fishermen for their meat. The best-looking ones are sold to aquariums.

In a letter to WAZA, the Japanese group, which comprises 89 zoos and 63 aquariums, said it would abide by WAZA’s decision.

��It is our wish at JAZA to remain as a member of WAZA,�� chair Kazutoshi Arai said in a letter addressed to WAZA President Lee Ehmke.

The campaign against the Taiji hunt has drawn Hollywood stars as well as the anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd.

Officials in Taiji, a small fishing village in central Japan, and fishermen have defended the hunt as tradition, saying that eating dolphin meat is no different from eating beef or chicken.

Eating dolphins is a delicacy most Japanese never experience. Many Japanese are horrified by the dolphin killing, and have joined the campaign against the Taiji hunt.

��The Cove,�� which won an Academy Award in 2009, stars veteran dolphin activist Ric O’Barry, who trained dolphins for the 1960s ��Flipper�� TV series before deciding to devote his life to protecting the mammals and keeping them in nature.