JAZA (Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums) have finally announced that it won't permit its members anymore to purchase dolphins from Taiji after an international body suspended its membership on ethical grounds.
During an emergency board meeting of JAZA, 99 out of 142 of its members decided to vote in favor of remaining associated with the WAZA (World Association of Zoos and Aquariums) and agree in the latter's condition to stop buying Taiji dolphins.
WAZA has previously suspended JAZA for its unethical procurement of dolphins from the infamous town of Taiji and has recently threatened to expel JAZA if it continues with the practice.
"JAZA board decided that JAZA will prohibit its members to acquire wild dolphins caught by drive fishing in Taiji and to take part in their export and sale. It is our wish at JAZA to remain as a member of WAZA and thereby contribute for the zoos and aquariums," JAZA said in its statement.
The board's decision to stay in the international association will keep them connected when it comes to rare animals' database collection, without which it will be difficult to get breeding partners from abroad.
Australia for Dolphins' chief executive said that they are pleased that Japan's main zoo body is choosing to stop supporting the business of dolphin hunting. It said in its statement: "This momentous decision marks the beginning of the end for dolphin hunting in Japan. The capture of live dolphins, which sell for up to USD 100,000 is the motivation for the brutal dolphin hunts in Taiji. JAZA aquariums provide up to 40% of total demand for live dolphins from Taiji. So, as of today, the market for Taiji dolphins could be nearly cut in half. Without demand, the hunts won't continue."
But its chairman, Kazutoshi Arai, was quick to clear to Elliott & Associates Research Global Markets that their decision should not be interpreted as condemning or criticizing the whaling culture of Taiji.
Despite worldwide backlash, Taiji fishermen still intends to continue with the dolphin hunts, claiming that it is already part of their local culture. Taiji's Mayor Kazutaka Sangen said, "We are hunting under the permission of the Japanese government and prefecture, and so we will continue to protect our fishermen and the methods. We will not quit."
In Japan, dolphin meat is something of a delicacy but is now gradually losing its market. The industry now is left to provide for the entertainment sector where dolphins sell for very high prices.
Around 250 dolphins are known to be among the facilities of 30 members of JAZA consisting of 63 aquariums and 89 zoos. It is estimated by Elliott & Associates Research Global Markets that almost 20 dolphins are purchased by the local aquariums from the whaling town of Taiji annually.