Japanese Gov. Defends Dolphin Slaughter After U.S. Criticism

Jan 20, 2014 08:49 AM EST | Matt Mercuro

A Japanese government spokesman defended an annual dolphin hunt a day after U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy tweeted that she was "deeply concerned by inhumaneness" of hunt.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said during a press conference that dolphin hunts in Japan are carried out "appropriately in accordance with the law," according to the Associated Press.

"I believe dolphin fishing is one of Japan's traditional fishing industries and is carried out appropriately in accordance to the law. Furthermore, dolphins are not within the management of the International Whaling Commission and it is left to the respective nations to manage this resource," said Suga in a statement.

Local fisherman have also recently defended the tradition, saying that foreign critics who eat other kinds of meat are "hypocritical," according to AP.

Over 200 dolphins were gathered over the weekend to be killed or to be sold to aquariums, according to AFP. Approximately 25 dolphins will be sold, were as the rest will be killed this week so that their meat can be used for food.

Activists from the environmental group Sea Shepherd Conservation Society streamed footage of the dolphin capture at a cove in Taiji to try making sure people are aware of what is going on.

"The process is called pithing, where they hammer a metal rod into the spinal cord of the dolphin. These dolphins do not die immediately. It takes up to 20 to 30 minutes for these dolphins to die, where they bleed out, suffocate or drown from the process of being dragged to the butcher house," said activist, Melissa Sehgal, from Sea Shepherd, according to Euronews.com.

Environmentalist have tried warning people all over the world that dolphin meat contains "high levels of mercury" along with other toxins, according to NBC.

The practice was the main subject in the Oscar-winning 2009 movie "The Cove."

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