Dutch Agriculture Minister Gerda Verburg has written to the Japanese ambassador to the Netherlands to protest the cruel annual slaughter of dolphins off the southern coast of Japan, Dutch paper De Volkskrant reported Wednesday.
Such practice is unethical and should be halted, the minister said in the letter. The letter was sent at the request of the Dutch parliament, the report said.
Japan has for years been under fire from animal activists who are appalled at the dolphin hunt in the shallow bays along the Japanese coast.
In her letter Verburg referred to the fishing village of Taiji in the south of Japan, where fishermen kill around 2,000 dolphins every autumn.
According to the paper, the hunt has been a tradition in Taiji for 400 years. The fishermen drive the animals onto the coast by beating undersea metal poles with hammers, and then kill the dolphins with spears and knives.
The Japanese embassy said it was familiar with the criticism from European countries. "Our ministry of fisheries is already trying to teach these fishermen a better way of catching dolphins," an embassy staff member was quoted by De Volkskrant as saying.
Dolphin meat is sold in Japanese supermarkets. According to the Japanese authorities, dolphin hunting is not covered by the agreements of the International Whaling Commission banning whale hunting.