In 2019 Action for Dolphins joined forces with a Japanese NGO called Life Investigation Agency and a resident of Taiji to launch the world’s first legal action against the dolphin hunts in Japan.
A case was filed against the Governor of Wakayama, the man responsible for signing a permit that allows the hunts to take place.
Dolphins are mistakenly viewed as “fish” in Japan, and the laws protecting mammals from cruelty have not traditionally been applied to them. Our lawsuit asserted that dolphins are biologically mammals, and the cruelty inflicted on them in Taiji is illegal under Japan’s own laws.
The legal action also presented evidence to show Taiji fishermen flout the conservation quotas stipulated in their hunting permits, and have illegally caught more than 400 dolphins in excess of their quota in the past five years.
We submitted expert testimonies, eye-witness reports, and compelling photographic evidence to prove the hunts that capture and slaughter so many innocent dolphins every year are cruel and unsustainable.
Our case went all the way to the High Court, but unfortunately the judges’ decided individuals do not have standing to challenge the legality of the hunts – meaning the court did not have to rule based on the evidence provided.
While the case did not end the dolphin slaughters it brought vital national and international attention to the hunts. And it’s not the end of the line. AFD has a team of lawyers working on a back up plan right now. They are putting together a criminal complaint targeting the sale of dolphin meat containing dangerous levels of mercury.
The 2019/20 legal action also followed on from previous litigation launched by Action for Dolphins in 2015 against the world’s peak zoo body, WAZA, which resulted in 62 Japanese aquariums being banned from purchasing dolphins captured in Taiji.
While this was a huge win, we owe it to the dolphins to keep fighting until we stop the hunts for good.