dolphin swimming -- photo ©Michael S. Nolan
dolphin in captivity
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    For the past two years, Ric and his wife Helene O'Barry have travelled to Taiji with the support of One Voice and Earth Island Institute in an effort to document the annual dolphin slaughter that occurs as part of Taiji's annual drive fishery.
dolphin, dead
Elsa Nature Conservancy
About the Campaign

Toxic Warning:
Dolphin Meat is Poisoning the Japanese People

Download a scientific analysis of mercury loading in dolphin meat: “Total Mercury, Methyl Mercury, and Selenium Levels in the Red Meat of Small Cetaceans Sold for Human Consumption in Japan” (.pdf, ~100k) by Tetsuya Endo, Koichi Haraguchi, Yohei Hotta, Yohsuke Hisamichi, Shane Lavery, Merel L. Dalebout, and C. Scott Baker

The dolphin meat sold to the Japanese people is highly contaminated with mercury, methylmercury, cadmium, DDT, and PCBs. The Japanese government provides no warning to its people that eating dolphin meat is a serious health hazard.

Mercury in Dolphin Meat: The New Minamata Plague in Japan

Coalition member Elsa Nature Conservancy (ENC) of Japan is reporting that dolphin meat from the recent dolphin capture in Futo was highly contaminated with mercury.

The Elsa Nature Conservancy (ENC) of Japan acquired a slice of meat from a bottlenose dolphin that was butchered in Futo on November 11, 2004. ENC immediately sent the sample to Hokkaido where Dr. Tetsuya Endo of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Health Science University of Hokkaido examined it for mercury contamination.

This meat was sold as whale meat at a market in Katsuura
(It was very popular). Photo Helene O'Barry

The meat was highly polluted. It contained 19.2ppm (parts per million) of mercury. This is 48 times higher than the maximum advisory level of 0.4ppm, set by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry of Japan.

In 2002 and 2003 ENC sent several packages of dolphin meat from the Miyagi prefecture to the local governmental Inspecting Center of Public Health in Ibaraki Prefecture, and Dr. Tetsuya Endo at the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Health Science University of Hokkaido examined the meat. The dolphin meat had been sold in Ito City and in a town named Kawazu, located in the southern part of Izu peninsula, Shizuoka prefecture. The inspection by both the Inspection Center and Dr. Endo proved that all of the meat was contaminated by mercury. One package of dolphin meat showed as much as 5.69ppm of mercury, which is 14.2 times higher than the maximum advisory level. The supermarkets in Ito city stopped selling dolphin meat for a considerable time in 2003.

Supermarkets in Ito and Kawazu where dolphin meat is sold include:

Nagaya Kamata Branch: 118-1 Minamicho 2chome, Ito-shi, Shizuoka-ken, 414-0035, Japan

Aoki Kawazu Branch: 123 Kawazuhama, Kamogun, Shizuoka-ken, 413-0500, Japan

NakamonSuisan: Ito Shopping Center 720-143 KusumiMotowada, Ito-shi, Shizuoka-ken, 414-0045, Japan
NagahamaSuisan: Ito Shopping Center 720-143 KusumiMotowada, Ito-shi, Shizuoka-ken, 414-0045, Japan

International teams of scientists working in Japan have analyzed hundreds samples of whale and dolphin meat and reported their findings to the International Whaling Commission. They found that more than 90% of the samples exceeded limits for one or more pollutants. One sample had more than 1,600 times the permitted level of mercury. The average level of mercury was more than 5 times the maximum allowable level, while the average concentration of methyl mercury was four times the maximum level.

We believe it is important to publicize this health hazard.

The fishermen of Taiji and the Government of Japan know that the dolphin meat is highly contaminated but have done nothing about it.

What you can do:

Write a letter to the above supermarkets as well as to the following individuals, warning them that the contaminated dolphin meat poses a serious health hazard to the Japanese people:

The Mayor of Ito
Fax: +81-557-36-1104

Ito-city “Kenkou-Suishin-ka.” (Health-Promotion-Section in Ito City)

Click here to send a message to the Japanese Prime Minister.

Find out more: visit Safety First, in Japanese and English concerning the sale and consumption of tainted dolphin meat.

© 2006, Earth Island Institute, Elsa Nature Conservancy, In Defense of Animals, Animal Welfare Institute. All Rights Reserved.