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Moment fisherman is filmed holding baby dolphin underwater before it is killed in Japan’s Red Cove

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A fisherman has been filmed holding a dolphin calf underwater before it is taken to be killed in Japan’s Taji Cove.

The video was captured in September in Taji, a town in western Japan that has become notorious for its annual dolphin hunt which was featured in the Oscar-winning documentary, The Cove.

From September to March, hunters herd large numbers of dolphins to their death. The dolphins are often slaughtered for their meat or they are taken to aquariums and marine parks for display.

Ren Yabuki, director of animal rights charity the Life Investigation Agency (LIA) witnessed the fisherman dragging the calf underwater.

He estimated that the baby dolphin was no more than three months old.

Baby dolphins were filmed swimming in Taji Cove (Dolphin Project)

“I feel so sad about seeing the baby dolphin killed,” Mr Yabuki told 9news Australia, who said his “blood ran backwards”.

The charity director did not see the moment the calf was killed as it took place underneath some tarp, however he believes the fisherman used a method called “pithing”. It involves using a metal rod to sever a dolphin’s spine.

Mr Yabuki told 9News the hunters often seem to target the younger mammals.

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“The older dolphins try and protect the young,” he said. “All of the dolphins surround the younger dolphin – so all of the animals are going to be killed.”

Heather Hill who volunteers for the charity, Dolphin Project as a cove monitor, added: “The Japanese government claims this causes an instant death and argues it to be humane, although extremely precise accuracy would be required to ensure a quick death.

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“This cannot be assured in such conditions.”

The annual hunt at Taji Cove is authorised by the Japan Fisheries Agency and regulated by an annual quota for certain species.

According to the Dolphin Project this year’s quota sits at 1,749.

Species such as bottlenose dolphins, striped dolphins, Risso’s dolphins, short-finned pilot whales, false killer whales, and melon-headed whales are likely to be targeted.

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The Fisheries Agency of Japan told 9News in a statement: “Japan’s basic policy is the ‘sustainable use of aquatic living resources including cetaceans based on scientific evidence’.

“The Fisheries Agency of Japan (FAJ) is responsible for the management of cetaceans and has conducted a series of scientific researches on cetaceans. Based on the results obtained from those researches, it calculates and sets catch quotas for dolphin fisheries species by species every year.

“The FAJ has closely collaborated with relevant prefectural governments for the management of dolphin fisheries, and the dolphin fisheries in Taiji has been properly done so with the Wakayama prefectural government.”

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