The Quota Problem

Over the past three days, there has been a tangible sense of despair lingering around the town of Taiji. Over the past three days, a family of over 100 Pilot Whales was completely torn apart.

On Tuesday morning, these animals were chased down, traumatised and herded together- their captors taking complete advantage of what mankind has come to learn about cetaceans; their use of sound for sight- or, echolocation. In a chaotic and deafening few hours on Tuesday, these majestic creatures fell from freedom and were confined to nets and jagged cliff-faces- in the next few days, they would lose part of their family.

Yesterday, 14 of the most sizable adults were slaughtered within the killing cove, as the others watched and listened- whilst swimming in the blood of their family members. Another 7 large adults were taken from our oceans early this morning… the rest were released hours later.

Now, the reasoning behind the title of this post serves to highlight the extent of greed which is so readily shown here in Taiji. Each season (between the months of Sep-Mar), the dolphin fishermen are allocated set quotas for individual species of dolphins and small whales…

Theoretically, these ‘quotas’ are set to allow for the ‘sustainable fishing‘ of certain species. However, here in Taiji- we can easily see the blatant abuse of these quotas, and the aftereffects are disastrous. During instances where we see huge pods being driven into the cove (just like the one we have seen over the past few days), only the largest and most profitable dolphins will be selected for slaughter, while the smaller adults, subadults and calves with less meat (therefore, less $$) are released with a high risk that they may not survive themselves.

The factor that is not taken into account is that many of these remaining whales cannot survive without the balanced social structures that they have been developing throughout generations. Therefore- there are many more dolphins and small whales silently perishing at the hands of the dolphin killers of Taiji… yet these are not incorporated into what they write down in their daily inventories after ‘work’. Many of the young pilot whales may perish without the presence of their mothers and elders. Pilot whales are considered one of the more socially dependent species of marine mammal (thought to be one reason for mass stranding episodes worldwide)- they never leave their natal pod.

And so, the next time another large pod makes the unfortunate mistake of swimming past Taiji, it will also incur the same fate; the largest whales slaughtered for meat while the less profitable individuals are left to possibly survive with the memory of their traumatic experience within the cove…

This morning, I was shown from a distance the skeleton of a Pilot Whale that was released from the cove after a slaughter in recent weeks- its’ body had washed up on a beach near the ‘Promontory’, nearby the cove and had largely rotted away- leaving its’ bones exposed. It is clearly evident that these animals struggle to survive without a connection between family members, and just this morning as the dolphin killers were chasing the pilot whales out of the cove- two whales had simply given up- they were virtually motionless and not even the dolphin killers’ attempts at running them down with the propellors on their skiffs could move them out at any pace. One of the whales was reluctantly fastened to the side of a skiff and dumped further out to sea.. their fate will remain unknown.

Once again, the bottom line. Greed.

But there is something that you can do to help! Get educated about what’s going on in our oceans and make your voice heard! We will be updating live from the cove every day- you can keep updated on the official Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians’ Facebook Page. Or follow #tweet4taiji on Twitter!

I’ll be updating this blog every day once again for you guys to keep updated on what is going on here in Taiji. Tomorrow we’ll have videos up from the last few days.. Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments etc to 🙂

After a very intense and horrific few days, we are all hoping for a blue cove tomorrow!


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  1. Hi Nicole and all the Cove Guardians. The words of this blog and yesterday’s are totally gut-wrenching, heart-breaking, tear-jerking and enraging and only add to the revulsion that certain members of humankind have reduced themselves to inflicting such cruel and gratuitous suffering to these innocent, social, sentient creatures. And for what? A few wads of cash! What will they do when there is nothing left to hunt down?? My message to you is: stay strong and keep safe. My thoughts are with you all.

  2. Excellent but harrowing report-the torture of these poor creatures goes on even after they are released.This is almost too much to bear-this onslaught is cruel and barbaric-how can Japan call itself an honourable country.No honour here.Just wanton slaughter.

  3. Thank you for your hard work and the updates Nicole. I can only imagine how upsetting it is to be there and witness it all with your own eyes. It is bad enough from a distance.

  4. I didn’t even think about the impact of what Taiji would have on these beings. Can the fisheries department in Japan enforce that trackers etc are put on animals that are released to find out or is that going to cause more trauma? Thanks for reporting Nicole, Peace to you!

  5. Reblogged this on Champions for Cetaceans and commented:
    Today a lone pilot whales was found floating in The Cove dead. He had struggled so to stay up with the others pilot whales as they were forced back out to sea but the trauma was too much. Taiji is a town that will always be known for their horrific treatment of dolphins. They have made their own new history.

  6. Hi Nicole,
    I have huge respect for you and what you are doing for our beautiful angels of the sea. I was totally oblivious to what these animals go through at the hands of the taiji fishermen.
    I will continue to share your status and tweets, as well as SeaShepards tweets and facebook updates, and ensure that the world becomes aware of whats happening.

    I stay on the beach in Blouberg SouthAfrica, if there’s anything else I can do, please let me know.

  7. Hi Nicole, thank you for the truly remarkable work you do for Cetaceans. I believe the pilot whale massacre was the tipping point for this campaign. There will be a change after this international outcry. Well done. The Japanese are going to have to address this now.

  8. This was a beautiful article and I literally was just held by my mother because I was crying. This is horrendous, despicable and truly makes me question humanities capability to think past their blinded perception as a consequence for desiring wealth. I am planning on joining the monitors next season and will commit my existence to making a difference. The cetaceans deserve it.

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