Fishermen kill whale trapped for 19 days in Japan's 'The Cove'
The minke whale was trapped in nets in Taiji City
Fishermen killed a whale off the Japanese port of Taiji early Monday morning, 19 days after the juvenile minke whale was penned in a bay with nets.
Ren Yabuki, director of the animal rights group Life Investigation Agency, said two Taiji fishing boats approached the whale - which has been weakened because it has been unable to eat since it was caught as bycatch on Christmas Eve - around 6:30 a.m.
"There were two ships working together to put a rope around the tail fin and push the whale's head underwater," Yabuki told The Telegraph. “They kept it next to the boat and it took about 20 minutes for the whale to drown.
"This is a really bad way for an animal to die, and I tremble with sadness at what I saw this morning."
His organization and others around the world urged fishermen to release the whale and urged the public to convey a message to the governor of Wakayama Prefecture to intervene.
Video footage from a drone operated by Mr. Yabuki showed the whale was desperate and visibly weakening
The whale's body was later hoisted onto the deck of one of the blue tarpaulin-covered ships and the ship returned to port.
Mr. Yabuki said he understood that the whale was being slaughtered in a building belonging to the city's fishing cooperative and that the meat was being sold in local supermarkets.
Taiji is known for its annual dolphin hunt, which was featured in the 2009 Oscar-winning documentary "The Cove".
The Australian branch of Humane Society International has also condemned the killing of the whale. A spokesman said the organization was "saddened by this horrific outcome".
"It is soul-crushing to believe that just lifting the net three weeks ago this poor animal could have been freed to swim instead of being trapped in ongoing distress."
Annoyed by the international community's refusal to allow Japan to resume commercial whaling, Tokyo stepped down from the International Whaling Commission in 2019, allowing its fleet to harpoon 383 whales each year, including as bycatch on other fishing operations.
"HSI believes it is inhuman to purposely trap whales under the guise of bycatch for extended periods of time, and we urge the people of Japan to speak out against this cruelty," said Georgie Dolphin, director of the organization's animal welfare program .
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