Registered Charity in England & Wales No.1165941

Urgent action needed for minke whale trapped in Taiji nets

Photo of dolphins being rounded up into a cove in Japan

Urgent action needed for minke whale trapped in Taiji nets

UK animal welfare charity Wild Welfare is aware of the distressing news that a minke whale is currently trapped in fishing nets in Taiji, Japan and is calling on authorities to urgently secure the animal’s return to the ocean.

The minke whale is reported to have become trapped in offshore nets owned by the Taiji Fisheries Cooperative, on December 24th, 2020.

The nets are in place all year round outside the Taiji harbour, the site of the annual Taiji Dolphin Drive which takes place from around September to March, in the Higashimuro District, Wakayama Prefecture, Japan.

The charity has been in contact with its colleagues at Japanese animal welfare NGO, JAWS Japan, and its Japanese consultants, to see what can be done for the whale.

Consequent phone calls made to the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries of Japan, confirmed it is the Fishermen’s Cooperation responsibility to free whales trapped in fishing nets, however they were not contactable themselves when tried.

Numerous Japanese groups and individuals have been applying pressure for action to be taken and operations have started to try and release the whale. Unfortunately, Wild Welfare understands the whale has moved to the farthest net from the opening and so far efforts have failed to release it.

According to the Cooperation, difficulties moving the nets and currents are also causing problems, although they have been accused by various groups that these reports are unfounded.

Wild Welfare is calling on all relevant authorities to urgently continue their efforts to help this distressed animal and will remain in regular contact with its Japanese partners who are working diligently to gather up to date information.

Wild Welfare has projects around the world to improve animal welfare for wild animals living in captivity.

The charity has been active in Japan for several years and has previously commented on the animal welfare issues surrounding the Taiji dolphin drive, welcoming the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA)’s decision in 2015, to prohibit its member aquariums from taking dolphins captured in Taiji.


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