On September 26th. the Ito City fishery cooperative held a briefing for the press at its Futo branch.At the briefing, it reiterated its decision to resume “dolphin drive hunts,” and officially announced this season's implementation of the activity.
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The existing ban on dolphin drive hunts is to be lifted on October 1 and continue until March 31st of next year.The hunts will be limited to the capture of live dolphins for breeding and display at facilities including aquariums.In doing so, it will reinstate a fishing method which is currently no longer in practice anywhere else in Shizuoka Prefecture.If carried out, it will be the first time in 15 years that this fishing method has been practiced there.

Senior Director Naoto Hiyoshi and other fishermen's cooperative members attended the press briefing.Mr. Hiyoshi explained that they had previously been refraining from dolphin drive hunts in Futo because they were worried about the negative impact of this activity on the Izu Peninsula Geopark’s bid for world certification.

However, he expressed his belief that resuming dolphin drive hunts at this time will not hurt the Geopark’s chances of world certification.“No conditions were outlined to us at the time of the world certification process last year,” he said.“In addition, there have been requests from aquariums for thecapture of live dolphins.If we don’t lift the ban now, we will lose our ability to catch them.”

According to the Ito fishery cooperative, there is a total capture limit of 57 dolphins/whales permitted by the government this season.This total includes up to 26 Pacific white-sided dolphins, 24 bottlenose dolphins, and 7 false killer whales.

Bottlenose dolphins are said to have already been ordered by aquariums near the Kanto area, and the order total is currently reaching the maximum capture quota.

However, the Pacific saury (mackerel pike) that dolphins feed on have recently been too few in number to be caught.So it is impossible to predict whether or not dolphins will migrate to the nearby waters of Shizuoka.

Only Ito(Futo) and Taiji (Wakayama Prefecture) have been allowed catch quotas for dolphin drive hunts by the Japanese government. Ito has not captured dolphins/whales since 2004, but every year from that time until 2014 it had expressed its intention to reimplement this activity.

Since 2014, however, Ito had been voluntarily refraining from capturing dolphins/whales.This was due to the fact that ”dolphin drive hunting in Ito” was listed as part of the reason that world certification for the Izu Peninsula Geopark was put on hold in 2015.

Source: Shizuoka newspaper