After the global reaction to the brutal dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been forced to respond to criticisms that the practice is cruel and inhumane. In an interview with Fareed Zakaria, the Prime Minister cited the "historical significance" of the practice:
The dolphin fishing that takes place in Taiji town is an ancient fishing practice deeply rooted in their culture and their practices and supports their livelihoods. We hope you will understand this. In every country and region, there are practices and ways of living and culture that have been handed down from ancestors. Naturally, I feel that these should be respected.
Many, like former trainer and anti-captivity advocate Jeffrey Ventre, counter claims like this by saying that the dolphin drive in this form is not so old. "My understanding is that the modern era of drive fisheries began in 1969, when skiffs became more powerful and maneuverable enough to be more efficient at killing," Ventre wrote for The Dodo. And most of the animals caught are destined for marine parks -- humans began keeping dolphins in captivity in the 1870s, but it wasn't until the 1940s and 1950s that oceanariums began opening all over the world.