"A provision in the MMPA requires that imports cannot come from inhumane capture methods or unsustainable populations," David Phillips, executive director at Earth Island Institute and director of the International Marine Mammal Project, told Discovery News. But, he said, record keeping is not very good, making it possible for other countries to justify their methods even if they may not be meeting our standards.
Even the phrase "unsustainable population" is loaded when applied to animals such as bottlenose dolphins. These marine mammals are not listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
"But bottlenose dolphins are classified as ‘data deficient' on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List and population trends for U.S. stocks are currently unknown," Ric O'Barry, campaign director of the Dolphin Project, told Discovery News while monitoring the weekend's dolphin roundup at Taiji Cove.
Captain Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and his team were also observing the Taiji event. Their team reports that, based on information from previous years, many of the Taiji dolphins get shipped to Mexico, Turkey, Dubai, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea and other parts of Japan.