Yes it is illegal to catch dolphins. That is why there are the laws around tuna fishing since the nets that the fishermen use to catch tuna also catch dolphins. Most tuna sold in cans in the US have the dolphin safe designation on the label.
There are some places where dolphin hunting is legal. For example, in Taiji, Japan, the town featured in the recent Oscar-winning documentary The Cove. Thanks to The Cove protests against hunting dolphins for meat are increasing.
Aside from animal rights, conservation, and legal issues, dolphin meat is dangerously high in mercury. Meat tested in a Japanese market had up to 5,000 times more mercury than the maximum amount recommended for human consumption. A Bottlenose dolphin washing up on the East Coast of the United States could technically be classified as a Superfund site. Mercury contamination is cause for concern even among those who don’t have ethical problems with eating dolphin meat.
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