Japanese Fishing Village Focus of ‘The Cove’ to Reinvent Itself As Nature and Marine Preserve

TAIJI, Wakayama ~ The town of Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, plans to make part of its cove a huge pool where people can swim and kayak among small whales and dolphins, Jiji Press reported Tuesday.

The town, known for its bloody annual dolphin slaughter, aims to officially launch the project within five years after negotiating with the prefectural government, which manages the bay, and pearl farmers operating there. “We’ve never heard of such an attempt elsewhere,” an official at the Fisheries Agency said. The plan, compiled by a local panel of residents, calls for creating a pool with an area of roughly 28 hectares by putting up a net on the entrance of Moriura Bay in northwestern Taiji.

Black whales and bottlenose dolphins caught near the town are to be released into the pool, which would be developed as a natural park that also includes beaches and mudflats. The town government will consider whether it is possible to raise large whales as well. The town also intends to use the park for therapy and ecological research. It hopes to make the area a center for whale research by inviting research institutions from outside as well.

The plan is part of efforts to make the whole town a natural museum that will allow people to learn about whales, including the culture and history of whale hunting.