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Dolphin hunt returns to Nago

Date Posted: 2008-02-01

Nago used to the center of dolphin hunting in Okinawa where tens of fishermen gathered to hunt dolphins that were herded into the shallow Nago Bay and then slaughtered. Eventually the bloody practice was stopped mainly because of opposition by conservationist groups, and accompanying bad publicity to the city.

However, the tradition is still alive, and a few fishermen in the city still possess licenses to hunt dolphins. Dolphin meat is also available at some smaller shops and at some festivals in the city.

Recently, a school of more than 100 dolphins appeared off Nago Bay and the local fishermen’s association called its members to join the hunt. Five boats joined the hunt and chased the group of the animals. They managed to herd seven dolphins into the fishing port where they were slaughtered.

This was the first time the dolphin hunt has been allowed since the practice was stopped 18 years ago. That ban was lifted last May. Association officials stress that the dolphin hut is not against International Whaling Commission limitations. But as people around the world are strongly opposing whaling, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries recommended to halt the practice.

Currently there are six boats that have a license to hunt for dolphins. For people in and around Nago City dolphins used to be an important part of their diet, but recently dolphin meat has become more of a curiosity that is eaten on special occasions.

Even local fishermen agree that a large scale dophin hunt is a thing of the past. “We can’t continue taking dolphins like before. People are strongly against the practice, and besides the cost of fuel has increased so much that hunting dolphins is no more profitable.”

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