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Japan's dolphin slaughter: cruelty or custom?

Not much has changed after Taiji fishermen were exposed for killing dolphins.

O’Barry, whose TV follow-up to "The Cove," "Blood Dolphins," has just aired on the Animal Planet channel, believes it is time for the anti-hunt lobby to change tactics.

"Maybe it's time to back off,” he said. “Japanese people have to get involved in this issue. There are groups out there calling for a boycott of Japanese goods, but I am involved in an anti-boycott campaign. We want people to go to Taiji and spend money in its hotels, restaurants and shops. We want to stimulate Taiji’s economy, not ruin it.

“I like Taiji, and its people. The vast majority of fishermen there do not kill dolphins. It is only 26 guys who have given the place a huge amount of negative publicity around the world.”

But the siege mentality that gripped Taiji’s residents during the height of "The Cove’s" popularity returned this month with the arrival of activists determined to maintain pressure on the town’s dolphin hunters.

Earlier this week Black Fish, a little-known European group, claimed its divers had cut the nets of six holding pens in an attempt to free captured dolphins. No arrests were made, the group said on its website.

West said fishermen had confronted him and his daughter earlier this week as they attempted to film them loading tanks of live dolphins on to trucks.

Despite the resumption of the dolphin cull, he believes "The Cove’s" message has started to resonate among some Japanese.

“I’ve met several people who said they’d heard about Taiji and wanted to see it for themselves. But I don’t think there will be change until the Japanese government understands that what happens here stains the reputation of an entire nation.”