Dolphin Hunters was broadcast on Tuesday, 9 November, 2004 in the UK at 1930 GMT on BBC Two.
This page is now closed. Thank you for your emails.
The comments published on this page reflect the balance of views we received.
As a Japanese person I was so flabbergasted! I never knew. If they want to eat fish there are many types of other fish in the sea. What's more, I was so shocked to see the way they killed them.
Chikako Barlow, York
Firstly to those who defend this on the grounds of culture: art and literature are culture, song and dance is culture, killing animals for meat and profit is not. Secondly to those drawing comparisons between the farming of dolphins and the farming of livestock: if we must debate this issue, it should be about the degree to which the animal can suffer and the distress caused by the method of killing. And finally, to whoever branded this as another case of "imperialism", please quit using that tired old criticism. I'm pretty sure that if the Japanese tourists to the dolphinariums were made aware of the means of capture they'd be the first to protest!
What can we do to stop this happening? I am so upset and angry. Dolphins are one the most fantastic creatures in this world - let us stop this please.
Karen Amann, Northumberland
Different societies exploit the resources around them in different ways, so holding moral high ground in cases like these is hugely hypocritical. I personally find battery farming techniques - so often used in the UK - far more distressing than the scenes shown in the programme last night.
Alan Stevens, London
Hunting is "traditional", bullfighting is "traditional" - now slaughtering dolphins is "traditional". Is that the best defence that can be offered?
Marian Hussenbux, Birkenhead
It was a very imformative programme. It is a subject that the world, and clearly large parts of Japan, need to know about - so this absolutely disgusting trade in dolphins for both entertainment at water parks and for meat can be stopped. Even if there were a problem in Japan with the vast amount of dolphins, which I very very much doubt, this is not the way to kill them. As usual, it all comes down to money.
Anne Linton, London
The majority of Japanese people in the documentary did not seem to know what lies beneath the surface of the dolphin meat trade. Education is the key. Although you won't change the opinion of some people, you may educate future generations to treat nature with the respect it deserves.
Jenny Drew, West Midlands
The programme gave a clean flowing account of the situation, free from fuss and drama that would otherwise influence the viewers reaction to the story and not the facts!
Colin Ford, Baldock
After watching this programme, I was grief stricken to discover that this sort of inhumane, despicable behaviour still takes place in the world. I couldn't help but cry at the scenes which were taking place before my eyes, right from the beginning.
Kaye Madeley, Cheshire
Nothing justifies such cruelty and the fact that the marine parks are fuelling this blood bath is so wrong and it must be stopped. Dolphins, as all creatures, should not be killed for food or sport. They should be left alone to enjoy life as nature intended.
Both my daughter and I were truly appalled by the scenes that we saw today in your programme. Both of us were very lucky to have swum in the open ocean in Australia this year with these magnificent creatures and to see what us humans can do to one of the most intelligent creatures is unbelievable.
Keith and Danielle Duncan, UK
I have just watched one of the saddest and most distressing documentaries I have seen for a long time. I had no idea this practice was ongoing. It is barbaric, inhumane and cruel beyond belief. At first I was tearful, but now I am very angry that a civilisation in the 21st Century treats these beautiful intelligent mammals this way.
Clare Meadowcroft, West Sussex
I loved the programme, in as much as it informed me of the terrible plight of these majestic creatures in Japan. I would have liked to have seen our government's point of view and that of the various international bodies that regulate trade. All in all, a good piece of investigative journalism; good job.
John Gibson, Bedford
I have lived in Tokyo since 1986. I love diving with dolphins - they're beautiful creatures - but see no reason why I shouldn't eat them, or whales. All the BBC is trying to do is impose its food taboos on others by dressing cultural imperialism up as morality. Don't be so parochial.
I found the programme very shocking and I was deeply saddened by the fact that I was powerless to stop it. I know that the dolphin hunters uphold the argument that the hunt is tradition and their livelihood, but I just don't know how they can physically slaughter the dolphins.
I have worked and lived and Japan and know the people to be kind and humane. However this atrocity must be stopped. Please continue broadcasting - however difficult it may be, for both the person capturing the footage and the viewer. When we realise we are responsible for all around us, then we will understand how to appreciate it and grow in a different way. I fear this may take a long time.
J Edwards, Winchester
That was barbaric. How can people justify doing things like that to such beautiful and intelligent creatures? This slaughter must be stopped.
S Morrell, Keighley
Hunted whales and dolphins live 99.99% of their lives in a 100% natural way - a vastly superior existence to any farmyard animal.
David Cook, London
I am amazed that such brutal killings of fine animals is allowed. Our government should apply pressure to stop this happening. Stopping all imports from Japan would soon put an end to this!
Michael Coats, Oswestry
Having just watched the programme addressing the cruelty of hunting dolphins, I was very impressed with the way in which the subject was dealt with. The argument among fisherman that it was acceptable because they had been "doing it all their lives" is bizarre.
Jonathan Hodge, Penzance
This had the beginnings of a good documentary, but it required much more balance and he should have been shown the footage of extreme violence to dolphins. Without it, this could never be a balanced programme.
Sally Allan, Horsham
I watched your programme tonight and found it very upsetting. I'm at college studying animal care and welfare, and at the moment I am studying dolphins. I just can't see how people can kill them.
Joanne Heard, Isle Of Wight
I had heard about the dolphin drive hunts before watching this programme because of a magazine article. My favourite animal is a dolphin and I think killing the dolphins for meat is dreadful. I even became a vegetarian because of the contradiction I was making by eating other meat. However, hunting dolphins to be taken into captivity into aquariums is far, far worse. I definitely think the best way to eliminate this type of establishment is to let more people know about the cruel and disgusting ways in which these dolphins are being forced into captivity. I thought the programme was a wonderful way to spread information about the drive hunts and was a really good insight into this entire world.
Ashley Fenwick-Brown, Newcastle
Dolphins are an animal just like you and me, so why kill them? What have they done to us to make people go to such extremes? Aquariums should not exist. This just drives the hunters on.
Rosie Paterson, Surrey
The fact that not many of the population knew about the dolphin hunters methods seemed to me to be because it was such a small industry. The hunters were doing nothing illegal and were within their rights to hunt the dolphins in this way.
Dee Connolly, Wallasey
Even as a marine biologist I have to wonder if the BBC have produced anything as banal, opinionated and pathetically produced as this piece of "journalism". Remarkable for being possibly the worst programme I've ever seen.
Charlie MacKenzie, Belgium
The online report by Paul Kenyon on dolphin hunters was one of the best, if not the only, account worthy of praise by any Western coverage on the issue that I have ever seen. I'm very impressed that finally there is a foreign journalist with the right mind to portray the reality of dolphin hunting.
Kana Fushimi, Tokyo, Japan
If we cannot change the ways and minds of these people, then we must educate them on the meaning of extinction and what this means to the world we live in.
Phillipa Alexander, Brighton
I think hunting dolphins is disgusting, but I feel it's no different from hunting any other living creature. I'm vegetarian and I think killing animals is wrong, but if you eat pigs and protest at the killing of dolphins, that's a bit strange.
Russell , Taiwan
Most young Japanese people have not eaten dolphin. To be honest I'd rate my chances of survival better if I were a dolphin in Japanese waters than a cod near Iceland.
David Allan, Tokyo, Japan
Save the dolphin because he's smart and kill the tuna because he's dumb? No, no... spare them both if they can feel pain.
Many here are unaware people hunt and kill dolphins.
If you only eat vegan you have some standing in criticising this, but why impose your lifestyle on others? If you aren't vegan, blood is on your hands from all the animals that serve you, and dolphins aren't more special than other animals or humans.
The slaughter of dolphins in Japan is very sad and frustrating. Praise should be given to all those who make efforts to stop this activity and international pressure put on the governments.
James Gibbs, Cyprus
Killing dolphins for food may appear horrendous to us as much as eating dogs, cats, snakes, rats, sparrows, monkey, horse and frog, but to other cultures it is a way of life. So in this multi-cultural world it is important not to force our own standards and cultures on other nations - else we will all become Americans.
Steve Koya, Japan
One of the fishermen said: "What if we came to the English countryside to picket a fox hunt?" You're welcome anytime -please come over!!!!
Disgraceful, barbaric and disgusting behaviour. I don't know how these "fishermen" sleep at night.
Jeff K, US