Page last updated at 08:27 GMT, Monday, 8 March 2010

Oscar win for film of dolphin hunt in Japan's Taiji

A fishing boat sails to catch whales off Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, western Japan
Fishermen in Taiji hunt both dolphins and small whales

A film which follows the annual dolphin hunt in the Japanese town of Taiji has won the Oscar for best documentary.

The Cove, directed by Louie Psihoyos, follows activists as they try to gain access to a bay where dolphins are corralled and killed.

The film has not been seen in Japan other than at the Tokyo Film Festival, but distributors say a modified version will open in some cities this year.

The mayor of Taiji, Kazutaka Sangen, protested at the film's Oscar win.

"I think it is regrettable that the film presents as fact material that is not backed up by scientific proof," he said in a statement reported by Reuters news agency.

He said that the hunt was legal in Japan and called for respect for the traditions of different cultures.

Taiji residents say that they have performed the hunt for decades. Hundreds of dolphins and pilot whales are herded into a small bay and either killed for meat or sold to aquariums.

Mr Psihoyos said he hoped that when the film was released in Japan people would "decide themselves whether animals should be used for meat and for entertainment".

In the Japanese version the faces of the fishermen will be blurred and a note added acknowledging disagreement over the film's claim of high levels of mercury in dolphin meat.

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