[MARINE_BIOLOGY_INTERNATIONAL] Typhoon delays start of Taiji's annual dolphin drive


(Japan Times Online)

Typhoon delays Taiji dolphin hunt

WAKAYAMA — Fishermen in the traditional whaling town of Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, scrubbed Thursday's kickoff of their annual hunt for dolphins, whales and other cetaceans due to an approaching typhoon off the Pacific coast.

(Driven: Activist Ric O'Barry faces reporters Thursday in Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, after approaching Typhoon Talas halted the start of its annual dolphin and whale hunts. KYODO PHOTO)

"We'd like to head out to sea soon, but you just can't beat a typhoon," Masayuki Miyoshi, deputy head of a local whaling association, said. The town was the focus of the controversial U.S. documentary "The Cove," which critically depicts the dolphin hunt there.

Cetacean hunting near Taiji is not subject to controls by the International Whaling Commission and the whalers are allowed to harvest through next spring based on a catch quota set by the central government.

Members of antiwhaling groups such as Sea Shepherd have been stationing themselves in the whaling town each year until the season ends in April to monitor the fishermen's activities. About 10 police officers are stationed at a makeshift police box there to prevent disputes between the activists and local residents.

The police have been seen frequently patrolling the area since Ric O'Barry, an activist who appeared in "The Cove" and campaigns for freeing dolphins from captivity, arrived in Taiji on Wednesday along with about 20 supporters.

While coastal whaling involving catcher boats usually starts on May 1, drive hunting — a traditional whaling method born in Taiji in which cetaceans are herded into a shallow bay — takes place from September through April.

Typhoon Talas was traveling northwest off the Pacific coast, with the Meteorological Agency warning it may land on western or central Japan on either Friday or Saturday and cause downpours and strong winds through a wide area of eastern and western Japan.

The Japan Times: Friday, Sep. 2, 2011

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