Where our research led
Our research, relationships and on-ground work in Taiji led us to the conclusion that change in foreign communities who undertake small locally-led operations can only be driven from within. Forced change through harassment, manipulation and 'shame' campaigns in places like Taiji and other small fishing villages across Japan have only created barriers to any potential solutions to the hunts and have had the unintended consequence of strengthening the community's resolve to keep the industry going.
Many local people have told us that hunting in Taiji was naturally dying out before the town received such wide-spread attention. Since the arrival of activists to Taiji in 2009, the resolve of the Isana Union (whaling union) and the local community to continue the hunts is now stronger than ever before.
If foreign NGO’s are truly passionate about creating change for cetaceans in Taiji we believe that they need to re-examine their tactics. Re-directing energy toward groups in Japan who can rebuild shattered relationships, overcome a lack of trust and break through the strengthened resolve among locals to continue the industry at all costs, could inspire a shift that appeals to the wider community. However, any resolution needs to be driven by local people, for local people.
When the people of Taiji decide to cease hunting cetaceans and end the captive trade it will be due to locally led initiatives driven by understanding, respect and consensus of the community on what the best outcomes are for them, their culture and the future of marine ecosystems in the area.
We will continue working with Japanese organisations and the local people of Taiji to support these initiatives.
Photography © Karl Goodsell