Dolphin Drive Fishery in Taiji: WAZA/JAZA summit leads to incremental progress

Date: 2014/08/10


WAZA convened a meeting today in Tokyo with representatives from the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA)…


10 August 2014, Tokyo, JAPAN – The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) convened a meeting today in Tokyo with representatives from the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA) in order to discuss concerns regarding the Taiji dolphin drive fishery hunt. Representatives from Elsa Nature Conservancy were also in attendance. Potential steps forward were identified during the meeting.


The complexity of the entire issue was discussed in detail and the different purposes of catches and the multiple involved parties were identified and discussed. It was made clear that the take of dolphins for JAZA institutions was relatively minor compared to the large demand for export of dolphins to many non-JAZA institutions, the majority of them in China, as well as the continued primary demand for dolphin meat for consumption in Japan. Non-JAZA institutions and commercial brokers who facilitate the export of live dolphins in combination account for far more dolphin takes than do members of JAZA.


However, as JAZA members still play a role in the live takes, WAZA approached the meeting by advocating for the eventual elimination of the drive fishery hunt. At the outset of the meeting, WAZA representatives, Lee Ehmke, President and Gerald Dick, Executive Director and Suzanne Gendron, Aquarium Committee Vice-Chair advocated for a moratorium in which dolphin takes would cease for two years in order to allow for the development of alternatives. Unfortunately, JAZA indicated that this was not realistic and therefore did not accept the concept of a moratorium.



As a step towards the eventual elimination of the drive fisheries, WAZA then proposed that the hunting and capturing activities be completely separated, JAZA indicated that the Japanese government and other parties had in the past rejected a similar proposal but indicated they would reconsider this approach. JAZA then outlined a number of changes to current practices which will reduce the scope and impact of JAZA members’ involvement in the annual take of dolphins. While WAZA acknowledges this positive gesture, WAZA indicated that this can only be seen as a beginning and that more substantive changes must follow.
Following the initial meeting between WAZA and JAZA, all parties met with several representatives of Japanese NGOs, organized by ELSA Conservancy to discuss the drive fisheries operation and agreed to continue open dialogue to seek ways of ending the dolphin kill.

Though the developments of the highly anticipated meeting fell short of WAZAs expectations, WAZA will continue to pursue all opportunities to end the dolphin drive fishery hunt and will consider further steps and consequences.




The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) is a global organisation that harmonises the principles, policies, practices and strategy for Zoos and Aquariums worldwide. Via member regional associations WAZA reaches over 1,300 leading Zoos and Aquariums. WAZA is the unifying representative of the global Zoos and Aquarium community and works in partnership with international conservation organisations such as  IUCN and other non-government organisations to advocate for high standards of animal welfare and to achieve conservation in Zoos and Aquariums (ex situ) and in nature (in situ). www.waza.org


WAZA Facts and Figures

Attracting more than 700 million visitors a year, the 1,300 zoos and aquariums that are part of the WAZA network have the unique potential to attract, inspire and mobilize public engagement for species and habitat conservation. The Biodiversity Is Us campaign allows visitors to make a direct connection between people and wildlife. Zoos and aquariums educate the public on biodiversity conservation, and hence promote environmentally sustainable development and social and political change. Some of the revenue produced by the zoos and aquariums is dedicated to field conservation projects around the world. Collectively, the amount contributed to these efforts by zoos and aquariums matches or surpasses the contributions of other leading global conservation organizations.


With 70% of the world’s population living in cities by 2030, zoos and aquariums offer a vital connection to the importance of biodiversity in our lives.



Hyatt Antognini Amin, Communications Executive for WAZA

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