Japanese Dolphin Cuisine: Cruelty or Culture?

Activists have no right to decry slaughter of Flipper's brethren, locals say
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 12, 2008 10:35 AM CST
Junichiro Yamashita, a city councilman spearheading the anti-hunt movement, speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in Taiji, Japan, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2008. Yamashita convinced schools to...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – One activist calls the Japanese city of Taiji "ground zero for the largest slaughter of dolphins on planet Earth," but locals want him and his cohorts to mind their own business. Residents of Taiji have been eating dolphin meat for hundreds of years and say they have as much right to do so as Westerners have to eat beef, CNN reports.

"I understand that they think the dolphin is a cute animal," says a fish merchant, "but it is our culture to eat dolphins." The issue may not turn on a society's right to practice ancient traditions, however: Taiji's schools stopped serving dolphin after a city council member raised concerns about high mercury levels in the flesh.