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Vitriol mars discussion on village’s dolphin hunts

Richard O’Barry, an activist who starred in the documentary “The Cove,’’ boycotted the meeting at Taiji Community Center. Richard O’Barry, an activist who starred in the documentary “The Cove,’’ boycotted the meeting at Taiji Community Center. (Koji Sasahara/Associated Press)
By Jay Alabaster
Associated Press / November 3, 2010

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TAIJI, Japan — An unprecedented meeting between conservationists and leaders of the dolphin-hunting village depicted in the Oscar-winning documentary “The Cove’’ ended in bitter disagreement yesterday.

The carefully organized meeting in Taiji was jolted beforehand when the film’s star, Richard O’Barry, said he would boycott it because severe restrictions had been imposed on the media covering the talks.

Taiji’s hunt each year draws a range of protesters who videotape the slaughter and occasionally scuffle with local fishermen. This season — the first since the Oscar was awarded — the attention has been particularly intense, and usually unresponsive town leaders agreed to a discussion at the community center.

But the two-hour meeting was acrimonious from the start.

Village fishermen defended the hunt as part of a centuries-long tradition, pointing out that Westerners kill other animals for food. Activists countered that the killings are barbaric and that dolphin meat is laced with dangerous toxins.

The hunts are legal under Japanese law.

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