Registered Charity in England & Wales No.1165941

Minke Whale trapped in Taiji is captured

Photo of dolphins being rounded up into a cove in Japan

Minke Whale trapped in Taiji is captured

UK animal welfare charity Wild Welfare is aware of the recent news reports that a minke whale trapped in fishing nets in Japan, has been captured.

According to Wild Welfare colleagues in Japan, captured means killed, and a recent Guardian news report states the whale was killed by an exploding harpoon. 

Wild Welfare’s acting UK director, Simon Marsh, said: “We are extremely shocked and saddened to hear this news. It is our understanding that there were efforts being made to free the whale, but we are unsure as to why this wasn’t successful and why the animal had to be killed rather than released.

“Whales are sentient beings and having been trapped for more than two weeks in the fishing net, it would no doubt have been suffering. What an incredible shame more could not have been done to prevent the needless death of this beautiful animal.”

The minke whale had become trapped in offshore nets owned by the Taiji Fisheries Cooperative on 24th December 2020 – nets that are in place outside the Taiji harbour, the site of the annual Taiji Dolphin Drive – it is understood efforts were being made to try and release it.

Wild Welfare contacted its Japanese colleagues and animal welfare NGO contacts at the start of the new year to see what could be done for the whale and to add pressure to an already international outcry surrounding the trapped animal, but reports indicate the whale was captured from the nets by the Taiji Fisheries Cooperative on 11th January, which most likely means it was killed.

“Japan faces ongoing disapproval for practices including whaling and the Taiji dolphin drives, but from our work with partners over the past few years to provide sustainable change for animals in captivity, we know recognition of animal welfare within the country is growing, and the overwhelming outcry over this animal clearly demonstrates this,” Simon Marsh added.

Wild Welfare has active projects in Japan, where it focuses its work on securing better welfare for captive wild animals and helping develop appropriate legislation, education and training that can help individual animals and wild animals collectively across the country.

The charity has spoken out on the Taiji dolphin drive before, condemning the practice of catching wild dolphins for use in the captive entertainment industry in zoos and aquariums.


Notes to Editors

For more information or interview requests please contact Wild Welfare on

Wild Welfare is a global organisation committed to improving animal welfare for captive wild animals. By uniting the world’s leading zoos, zoo associations and animal welfare organisations, we build trusting partnerships that help provide long-term solutions to critical wild animal welfare issues.

Our vision is to end the suffering of captive wild animals around the world and ensure full and sustainable protection is given to all animals in human care. Find out more at Registered charity in England and Wales No.1165941.

Image © Taiji dolphin drive