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Tourists visiting Taiji in Japan's western Wakayama prefecture will be able to swim and kayak with bottlenose dolphins and black whales who have been captured from nearby waters. They will also be able to dine on dolphin meat and "various marine products" while, says a town official.
According to Wakayama Prefecture records, 1,277 dolphins were caught in the 2012 season. Under its current license, Taiji is allowed to catch 2,026 dolphins throughout the current season. The majority of the animals are stabbed to death for their meat; a few are sold to aquariums and marine parks outside of Japan -- and some will now find themselves captives near the waters where they once swam freely.
To the Ministry of the Environment, Government of Japan,
We, the undersigned, ask that you halt the opening of a marine park in the town of Taiji.
As of October 7, Taiji officials have said that the town plans to open a marine park not far from the dolphin hunt that conservationists from around the world have protested as inhumane and cruel.
In the planned marine park, tourists are to be able to swim and kayak with bottlenose dolphins and black whales who have been captured from nearby waters. Tourists will also be able to dine on dolphin meat and "various marine products," as officials say.
Taiji's long-term plan is to turn the entire town into a park. But this plan, along with the dolphin hunt, could only endanger the marine mammals further.
As Nanami Kurasawa, the secretary-general of the Tokyo-based conservationist organization Iruka & Kujira (Dolphin & Whale) Action Network (IKAN), says, dolphins, whales and other marine mammals do not belong to Taiji and the town cannot simply emploit them for its own purposes.
The proposed plan to build a marine park will only spark more protests and darken Japan's image around the globe.
For these reasons, we ask that you stop the opening of a marine park in Taiji.