As I stepped onto the street of Kii-Katsuura this morning, I looked to the sky with dread. Not a cloud to be seen nor a wind to be felt. I turned my gaze toward the ocean and saw the mountains reflected upon the glassy surface of the water; a terrible way to start the day if you’re a Cove Guardian.
As we drove past the Taiji harbor, we counted eleven ”Bangers” missing. They were out to sea searching for dolphins to murder. We took watch atop a hill overlooking the city of Taiji and it didn’t take long before the fisherman were spotted in drive formation on the horizon, thick smoke pouring from their boats as they chased after a pod of dolphins.
Both the fisherman and the dolphins were determined to beat one another. The dolphins would escape for a moment before the fisherman had cornered them once again. The dolphins continued their battle with the fisherman and eventually broke free and disappeared into the deep blue ocean. Defeated, the boats raced towards shore into the harbor. Two boats were still unaccounted for but within minutes, appeared in the distance and followed the others into the harbor.
Today was a great day to be a dolphin!
It has been said many times by other Cove Guardians that Taiji is a beautiful place worthy of a booming tourist industry. If the fisherman of Taiji would give up hunting dolphins and use their knowledge, skills and vessels for good rather than evil, I would be proud to speak highly of the fisherman of Taiji. People make mistakes and it takes courage to admit when you’re wrong. If the fisherman would put aside their pride and admit their errors, this could all come to an end.
I hope the fisherman and local government of Taiji realize the mistakes they are making before their town becomes the next Iki. It will happen if they fail to change their practices. It’s becoming evident that the once abundant population of dolphins here is already diminished. Nearly half-way through the season, Cove Guardians estimate that only about 200 dolphins have been captured or killed in Taiji this year. The quota is approximately 2,000.
Tourism is the only industry which will ensure the long-term economic stability of the entire community. Not only will creating a thriving tourism-driven economy benefit the fisherman, it will also benefit hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops, rental cars businesses, etc. Taiji has a great opportunity for prosperity. The path they’re taking today only ensures one thing for their future: no dolphins. And no dolphins in Taiji means everyone loses.