In there blind pursuit of slaughtering dolphins, the Japanese have become blind to another threat. What is the consumption of dolphin and whale meat doing to the Japanese people who eat it?
A report released today (Dec 5/03) by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has revealed evidence that mercury-contaminated dolphin, porpoise and small whale products are widely available in Japanese retail outlets. Japanese consumers face serious health risks when they eat these products.
Whales, dolphins and porpoises are susceptible to accumulating toxins like mercury, as they are long-lived and feed at high on the food chain. Mercury is a potent neuro-toxin, and scientists have found that even low concentrations can cause damage to nervous systems. Developing fetuses and children are especially at risk.
Mia Strickland, the EIA Cetacean Campaigner, said the Government of Japan has been aware of the dangerously high levels of mercury in whales, dolphins and porpoises for several decades, but has taken little action to protect the consumers.
According to Japanese Food Sanitation Law, it is illegal to sell products with mercury or methyl-mercury levels in excess of 0.4 and 0.3ppm respectively. Chemical analyses of 72 meat and blubber samples purchased from Japanese supermarkets by EIA investigators revealed that government-permitted levels for mercury exceeded the Japanese Government's allowable levels in 60% of the products tested.
In June 2003, The Government of Japan released a health advisory warning pregnant and nursing women to limit their consumption of certain cetacean products (Sperm whale, Baird's beaked whale, Pilot whale and Bottle-nose dolphin) due to contamination of mercury in these species, which can reach levels over 100 times higher than those commonly found in migratory fish such as tuna and swordfish. This health advisory, although a positive step, does not go far enough to protect the health of the Japanese public who consume these products.
With the release of undeniable evidence that mercury is a real and potent risk for consumers of whale, dolphin and porpoise products, the Government of Japan should immediately ban the sale of all cetacean products and fully implement its own food safety laws, stated Mia Strickland. This October's drive hunt of dolphins and small cetaceans in Taiji, in the Wakayama Prefecture demonstrates that the Government of Japan has still not taken the health of the Japanese public seriously. Public health should not be compromised as a result of Japan's relentless campaign to resume commercial whaling world-wide."
Captain Paul Watson added, "In a nation that practices total disregard for the health and welfare of it's own citizens, it is not surprising that the cruelty of the dolphin slaughter is tolerated. The slaughter of dolphins in Japan will end. The question is how will it end? The first option is unacceptable - the extinction of the dolphins. The 2nd option is also unacceptable - the poisoning of Japanese citizens leading to a health ban on the consumption of dolphins. The 3rd option is the only one that makes practical sense and will save the dolphins from extinction and will prevent the poisoning of Japanese citizens and that is for the government of Japan to outlaw whaling and dolphin hunting.
Is there any difference between Saddam Hussein using nerve gas to kill his own people and the Japanese deliberately allowing poisoned meat to be consumed by their own citizens? Not really - the end result is the same. Mercury is a neuro-toxin and the government of Japan's tolerance of the sale and consumption of this poison is willful negligence. It is inexcusable and if Japan were not an ally of the United States would qualify the nation as one of George Bush's "evildoers."