Some 18-thousand dolphins’ porpoise are killed each year off Northern Japan. Permits to kill three thousand dolphins and small whales off the main island of Honshu are in effect. Most of the dolphins taken are slaughtered for meat. An increasing number are taken and shipped to oceanaria, mostly in Asia. The recent studies extremely high levels of contaminants such as mercury, cadmium and PCBs in dolphin meat has led some Japanese officials, concerned for the health of the citizenry, to an examination of the policy of eating cetaceans. For some two decades environmentalists in Japan and from western NGOs have been attempting to stop the brutal slaughter of dolphins and small whales in a few fishing villages in Japan. Efforts were based on exposing the brutality of the hunts. That has had impact but has not ended the killing. The study of high levels of toxicants in dolphin meat has, an ironic way, led to a decrease in demand for dolphin meat. Dolphin meat is often mistaken as whale meat in violation of Japanese food safety laws. The change of the meat sold in stores from baleen whales, which are low trophic feeders, to dolphins which are high trophic feeders, subjects those eating this meat to high levels of heavy metals, such as mercury, and organochlorines like PCBs, dioxins and benzenes.
People are conducting tests on meat taken from dolphins killed at Taiji, Japan and sold for human consumption. We are also testing hair samples of people who eat whale and dolphin meat to check for levels of contaminants. These tests are conducted in Japanese facilities in consultation with Japanese doctors and scientists. The first test conducted in 2008 of meat from a bottlenose dolphin revealed Mercury , eighteen times higher than the maximum level permitted under Japanese health standards.
Fish caught in Japanese coastal waters have radioactive particles from last year’s nuclear disaster have accumulated on the seafloor and could contaminate sea life for decades. A...
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