Occurring annually from September to April, the dolphin hunts are regulated by the Japanese government and conducted by groups of fishermen who herd hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dolphins and small cetaceans into shallow bays by banging on partially submerged rods that create a sonic barrier. The dolphins are then corralled into nets and dispatched in a brutal manner: speared, hooked, hoisted into the air by their tails, and finally eviscerated alive. The methods, say researchers, result in a long and painful death for these intelligent marine mammals.
The Japanese government has made the unsupported claim that the animals compete with local fishermen for limited supplies of fish and that the drives are in fact a means of pest control. Also, the “Act for Dolphins” consortium maintains that, in spite of the fact that the hunting of dolphins and use of their meat has waned in popularity, the government is actually encouraging the public to consume more dolphin meat; in addition to human consumption, dolphin meat is also used as pet food and fertilizer.
I know I’m supposed to be outraged, because dolphins are “intelligent” (read: cute), but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to take a nice bite out of some iruka sashimi.