JAZA members vote to ban Taiji dolphin hunts
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JAZA members vote to ban Taiji dolphin hunts

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The Japanese member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) looks set to remain a part of the global organisation after its members voted to stop using dolphins captured during the highly controversial Taiji dolphin hunts.

The Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA) was suspended last month after its decision to continue to take dolphins caught in the Japanese whaling town of Taiji, whose fishermen force the cetaceans into shallow waters before either slaughtering them or catching them for public display in aquariums.

In a statement, JAZA said the body would prohibit its members from acquiring wild dolphins caught by drive fishing in Taiji and to take part in both their export and sale. JAZA chair Kazutoshi Arai added at a press briefing after the vote – which was won by an overwhelming majority – that the Japanese body does not regard the technique as “cruel” and that various aquariums and zoos will have to cooperate to promote proper breeding among Japan’s captive dolphins.

“We take about 20 dolphins from Taiji annually, but we have improved how we hunt, separating our hunt from everything else at Taiji that is for dolphin meat,” added JAZA executive director Kensho Nagai.

"But we don't have control over the rest of the dolphin catch, part of which is sold by local brokers to aquariums in China and the Middle East."

Around 30 of JAZA’s members have a combined total of 250 dolphins in their facilities, around half of which were procured from the town of Taiji. If WAZA did expel JAZA, all of the Japanese members would lose access to a global database of rare animals.

“The drive hunt is a sustainable fishing [method] under appropriate control by the government with scientific foundations, and is being carried out carefully so that dolphins are not hurt,” said Yoshihide Suga, chief cabinet secretary for the Japanese government. Suga added that the government would be taking measures to “avoid any ramifications” for the region's aquariums.

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The Japanese member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) looks set to remain a part of the global organisation after its members voted to stop using dolphins captured during the highly controversial Taiji dolphin hunts.
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