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Thread: Mercury threat rising in dolphin meat

  1. #1
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    Mercury threat rising in dolphin meat


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    Tokyo International Party

    I think a link has already been posted about the Taiji officials studying toxins in dolphin meat. I saw a new story today about how stores in Taiji are taking dolphin meat off the shelves because those studies have found the mercury levels to be a lot higher than the acceptable levels:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22920804/

    The dolphin meat industry is complaining that this has cost them a lot of money already, but this is a study that was done by Taiji officials, not from anyone outside the area.
    Dr. Albert Schweitzer - “Until he extends his circle of compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace.”
  2. #2
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    Thanks a lot, Sarapva!
    I think, this article should be posted in full, if you don't mind. I tried to do the job. . .

    Japan’s dolphin hunt sags over mercury fears

    Animal rights activists have failed to thwart industry, but toxin might
    updated 12:49 a.m. ET Jan. 31, 2008 TAIJI, Japan -

    Every autumn and winter, hunters from this craggy Japanese fishing village corral thousands of dolphins into a tiny, isolated cove and kill them for meat and fertilizer, turning the water red with their blood.

    And every year, foreign animal rights protesters converge on the town, interfering with the slaughter, clashing with fishermen and broadcasting grisly photographs of the slayings around the world — all without stopping the hunt.

    Now, Japan's dolphin hunters face a new, powerful opponent: mercury contamination.

    Scientific studies in recent years in Japan have documented high levels of the toxic heavy metal in dolphin meat, and a group of city councilmen in Taiji launched an unprecedented campaign against the hunt several months ago after doing their own tests.
    A leading regional supermarket chain has pulled dolphin from its shelves over the health concerns, and hunt critics in the town say villagers are shunning it. Meat from pilot whales — a type of dolphin — was taken off local school lunch menus in October.

    "The mayor says we've caused 100 million yen ($1 million) in damages to the industry, but I don't know how that's calculated," said Junichiro Yamashita, a city councilman spearheading the anti-hunt movement. "They say the business is important for Taiji, but we say that health is more important."

    Mercury threat strikes a chord

    Indeed, while animal rights arguments against the hunt have fallen on deaf ears in Japan, the threat of mercury contamination strikes a chord in a country where food safety is rapidly becoming a paramount public concern.

    Though no mercury poisoning cases from dolphin meat have been publicly documented in Taiji, such contamination resonates loudly in Japan, where thousands were killed or crippled by mercury poisoning in Minamata in the 1950s and 60s. The poisoning was triggered by massive dumping of industrial mercury into the fishing grounds around the village in southern Japan.

    Taiji is one of several Japanese villages where dolphins are hunted. The town this season has a nationally set quota of 3,015, of a total national quota of nearly 21,000. The actual take tends to be about 30 percent lower than the quota, depending on demand for the meat.

    While other villages usually harpoon their quarry out at sea, the particularly bloody killing methods in Taiji have made the town a focal point of animal rights activists worldwide.

    The village resents the attention and accuses outsiders of interfering with a hunting tradition of hundreds of years. Standoffs between protesters and hunters quickly boil over into arguments and threats. The town erects barriers and hangs tarps to block activists from photographing the kill, and daily hunts can be canceled if foreigners are seen in town.
    "No thank you," said an official at the fisheries union when approached for comment on the hunt. "You've come at a bad time."

    Government's contamination limits exceeded

    The recent findings on mercury levels, however, have given pause to many would-be consumers.

    Tetsuya Endo, a researcher at the Health Sciences University of Hokkaido, in northern Japan, has co-authored numerous studies showing dolphin meat can contain mercury at concentrations many times higher than the 0.4 parts per million allowed by the Japanese government for many types of fish.

    The highest concentration he has found so far was 100 parts per million from a bottlenose dolphin — a species whose meat is butchered in Taiji.
    "This ought to be investigated," Endo said, calling for a government probe into the dangers of eating dolphin. "There are people who eat it a lot, and those people could be suffering health effects."

    The threat of mercury contamination, however, failed to cause a stir in this isolated village until Yamashita, irked by the town's plans to build a $3 million dolphin slaughterhouse and spread the use of local dolphin meat in school lunches, decided with allies to conduct their own probe.

    The results on tests of three locally bought pieces of dolphin meat at a government-run lab confirm their fears, he said.

    The pieces of meat taken from pilot whales were all many times the 0.4 parts per million threshold. One piece logged 11 parts per million of mercury, and 2.6 parts per million of PCBs, an industrial pollutant that Japanese regulations limit to 0.5.

    Hunters have friends in high places

    Yamashita and his allies announced the results in a handout distributed with local newspapers, and he expanded his crusade by appearing at a news conference in Tokyo for foreign reporters — a move that angered village elders and hunters.

    "They said that if dolphin hunting disappears, then Taiji will disappear, but I say it's important to look at developing other industries," he said. "They're upset that I showed this to the outside world."

    The anti-hunt movement, however, faces substantial hurdles.

    The Taiji leadership — only three of 10 councilmen oppose the hunt — is clinging to plans for the new slaughterhouse, counting on sales of dolphin meat outside the region, where the mercury concerns have not spread because of lack of national media attention. Captured dolphins are also sold to dolphin aquariums in Japan and abroad, at substantial profit.

    Taiji has powerful contacts at the national level. Lawmaker Toshihiro Nikai, a top executive of the long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party, is a native of the prefecture where Taiji is located, and he recently visited the village. Campaign posters of him can be seen around town.

    Tokyo — which is also battling international protesters over its whaling program on the high seas — is not getting involved in the dolphin dispute, despite a Health Ministry survey in 2003 confirming high levels of mercury in the mammals. The Fisheries Agency in 2005 upgraded a 2-year-old advisory to urge pregnant women not to eat dolphin more than once every two months.

    In any case, the 0.4 parts per million limit on mercury does not apply to dolphin meat, and there are no plans to strengthen the guidelines, officials said.

    "We are aware that mercury content is particularly high in dolphins," said Yuichiro Ejima, a food safety official at the Health Ministry. "But ... most Japanese seldom eat the meat, except in some areas where dolphins are caught traditionally."
    I am so very glad, the Japanese wake up themselves!!
    Last edited by Chi65; Feb 1, 2008 at 07:59.
  3. #3
    Midnight and Snowflake Female
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    Thanks, Chi! I'm also glad this was done by Japanese officials.
  4. #4
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    And it also sums the whole problem up for everyone to see!
    Great indeed! I have passed it on to other forums, it should be widely known.

    Now some will have a problem, as for silly racist arguments, hehe.

    And again, according to the whale trails, that are often ignored and left out for obvious purpose, one whale is a good or bad as any other one. Its the fat, that mainly stores the mercury etc., same as in dolphins.
    I do fear for the Wakayama children though, it will show only later. . .
  5. #5
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    I just got the message from my US friends, that there was an related warning coming from Manhattan, N.Y.

    also in the news about mercury poison.
    sushi fish!
    yellow fin tuna I believe it is.
    an independent study done of sushi eateries in manhatten.
    mercury poisoning up to 6o percent higher that the safe level, the so-called healthy level.
    Igitt! Where does that fish come from??
  6. #6
    Banned Female
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    Its not new at all, see this video, posted 1 year ago:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wd5lHbtyxzs

    and some information about how mercury effects the brain.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VImCpWzXJ_w

    . . . . . . . . .
  7. #7
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    Great vid Chi:

    Just researching the mercury bizo a little more.

    It amazes me how laxed the hygiene for food laws are in Japan.

    I founds this news article interesting.
    http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/...220711026.html

    I heard a lady became extremely sick a few days ago after eating a fish, which is poisonous, although apparantly once the poison is removed (only be specialists), the fish is safe.

    Well, apparantly this time she was unlucky..

    I wonder why one would eat it when their are other choices..

    I tried it once in Japan (Fubu), no big deal and not much taste..

    I don't like fish or seafood at the best of times, although have to be nbaighty and admit I do enjoy a good staek on the babrbie

    Leave the sausages at home.. Never know what's inside, and the outside is enough to put me off..
  8. #8
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    Great vid Chi:

    Just researching the mercury bizo a little more.

    It amazes me how laxed the hygiene for food laws are in Japan.

    I founds this news article interesting.
    http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/...220711026.html

    I heard a lady became extremely sick a few days ago after eating a fish, which is poisonous, although apparantly once the poison is removed (only be specialists), the fish is safe.

    Well, apparantly this time she was unlucky..

    I wonder why one would eat it when their are other choices..

    I tried it once in Japan (Fubu), no big deal and not much taste..

    I don't like fish or seafood at the best of times, although have to be nbaighty and admit I do enjoy a good staek on the babrbie

    Leave the sausages at home.. Never know what's inside, and the outside is enough to put me off..
    Thanks for the other link, its still valid. I will need more time to go through though. Yes, its wellknown, that one meat goes for another one over there, they have no rules for this, its not a crime, as I read somewhere, thus can easily bypass it. They are cheating each other to death, if such things go on. . .Someone said, they are very sensitive about food, well, that maybe so for foreign food, their own gets through uncensored, fo longer. and although it was mentioned many times, they wish to ignore it, in fact creating their own desaster this way. And of course, if a foreigner tells them, the irrational racist theme comes up again and disturbs the clear view.
    Its such a pity!
    And yet I stay their friend, once I have been given so much, its my turn to give something back, be it an eagle eye. . .let them shout, I am used to worse, and yet it was right.

    Isn't it Fugu, to my knowledge? Well, russian roulette, if they like it. . .I have not yet tried that fish and am not sure if I will.

    For tomorrow I have only pasta, no meat. But that serves me as well

    See you!
  9. #9
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    The minke whale is safe to eat. The chances of dying from heart attack and caner is greater with eating sausages and pokk chops, hamburgers than lean ecological whale meat.
    Last edited by centrajapan; Feb 3, 2008 at 02:02.
  10. #10
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    Keep on, passing old misinformations. I have gotten the same warning informations about different minke whales on a science forum right now. Its far from safe.
    While you even put all minkes in one bag. . .
    Last edited by Chi65; Feb 3, 2008 at 12:07.
  11. #11
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    Please learn more about whales and the dangers of eating sausages.

    You probably could not tell the difference between a mackrell and a whale and the difference between a pilot and a minke whale.
  12. #12
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    Please stop unreasonable flamings.

    I additionally read several scientific research papers, so did others.
    We are not talking about mackarels and whale differences here, who I can sort out very well, by the way.
  13. #13
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    Please read more about whales. Do it for you own benefit. There are 80 different whale spiecies. Why is it so hard for you to admit that there are many differences within the various whale speicies? Please read more about whales and the dangers of sausages. Your ignorance on this matter and your close minded prejudice is baffling.
  14. #14
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    I DO know about the many species of whales, and also what unites them.
    Particularly in real scientific research papers.
    Why does that not go into your head?
    You always only distract with YOUR close mindedness and paranoid fixations.
    You even put all minkes in one bag. . .
    Last edited by Chi65; Feb 3, 2008 at 12:05.
  15. #15
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    Read more about whales.
  16. #16
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    Read again, what I wrote.

    And also, I have been interested in whales and dolphins for more than 35 years, thus read a lot, have several books about them, plus saw many films and reports. Just for informations about who is ignorant.
    Last edited by Chi65; Feb 3, 2008 at 10:24.
  17. #17
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    Just some mixed reflections on another page, tokyotimes, actually:

    http://www.wordpress.tokyotimes.org/?p=872

    about whalemeat

  18. #18
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    I found this interesting link,

    http://www.abc.net.au/rn/science/ear...es/s587590.htm

    It is a transcript of an interview of some Japanese whalers, and at the end has a bit about the high PCB's in whale meat.
  19. #19
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    Thumbs up

    and from the Environmental Health Perspectives web site
    http://www.ehponline.org/docs/2003/1...orum.html#merc
  20. #20
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    Thanks a lot, Rose S.!

    As for the first one, I hope you don't mind, if I copy some of the text in here, since it is still valid?:

    Selene Alcock: So, Noriko, do you eat whale meat as well?

    Noriko Sato: No.

    Selene Alcock: Have you ever tried it?

    Noriko Sato: Yes, because when I was an elementary school student, we had the whale meat for lunch. But at home, I didn’t eat.

    Selene Alcock: Noriko Sato.

    A few months ago, the Japanese government launched a public relations campaign to reverse this trend. In Tokyo, whaleburgers are now offered as an alternative to the beef burgers that Japanese youth have become so accustomed to eating. Japan’s fisheries agency claims that whale meat is good for one’s health, and even the brain. They say children who eat it will achieve higher grades in school.

    Recent research has found mercury levels in whale flesh up to 25 times the government safety limit, and up to 5,000 times above the limit in liver.

    Vivvi Koomson is an adviser to the Finnish delegation to the International Whaling Commission. She believes the Japanese government’s push to encourage children to eat whale meat is in fact endangering their lives.

    Vivvi Koomson: It’s not safe to eat the meat, no matter where it comes from, because the accumulative of this mercury and other stuff, it’s so high on whales that it is very unsafe for people to eat it.

    Selene Alcock: Do you think the Japanese people are aware of the health hazard of eating whale meat?

    Vivvi Koomson: They should be, let’s put it that way, they really should be, because it is especially for young children and pregnant mothers and it is do dangerous, dangerous to eat whale. And I think it would be very important for the government to be aware of this and let the people know.
  21. #21
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    Vivvi Koomson: It’s not safe to eat the meat, no matter where it comes from, because the accumulative of this mercury and other stuff, it’s so high on whales that it is very unsafe for people to eat it.
    It is a dangerous food faddism which does not say that the mercury and other stuff related to seafood are excreted from the body...
  22. #22
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    Thinking about the mercury will cause more harm. The next time you try whale meat Chi think about the mercury. You'll probably die of heart attack due to stress before the mercury gets to you.
  23. #23
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    Toxic or not, Inuit stand by whale meat.

    Traditional diet, nutritious and, well, traditional. Tired of turkey? Had it with ham? Sick of stuffing? Try a hunk of boiled whale blubber or a heaping helping of raw seal brain.

    The traditional diet of the Inuit, an enduring part of Canadian lore for hundreds of years, remains as much a part of life in the North now as it was a century ago. It has proven just as resilient as the western holiday tradition of eating turkey with all the trimmings.

    Even dangerously high levels of pollutants in "country foods" like seal and beluga whale aren't enough to convince northerners to give up their hearty habits, says Day. "It would take an awful lot to really make us change our diet. It's part of our culture. It's something that's really hard to explain."

    A Health Canada study released this month points to high levels of cadmium and mercury in many of the animals upon which traditional Inuit depend for sustenance. But despite the toxins, nutritional experts and Health Canada agree: a steady diet of meats and fats from the ringed seal and beluga whale still does more good than harm. "The nutritional value of our country foods probably overrides the danger of the pollutants that are in them," Day said in a phone interview from Inuvik, about 2,000 meters northwest of Edmonton. "If would take a lot of proof that it is harming us before we would give up our way of life, our way of eating."

    A western-based diet - which includes everything form fast food to the standard Christmas meal - is worse for the Inuit than eating toxin-laced country food.

    What was more important was the concern about malnutrition from foods imported form the West, because it's not as nutritious as whales and seals," said Leslie Whitby of Indian and Northern Affairs. Rather than have the Inuit eat food that would pose a known health risk, it made more sense to let them maintain their traditional diets, Whitby said.
    http://www.highnorth.no/library/Culture/to-or-n.htm

    Anti whale = Racism.
  24. #24
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    Anti whale = Racism.
    Serious, I just don't get it..

    If we say we are not racist, but are against whaling, why do you think that makes us racist as you keep constantly stating?

    Your own opinion, PLEASE!
  25. #25
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    If we say we are not racist, but are against whaling, why do you think that makes us racist as you keep constantly stating?
    Because you disregard cultures and people who have a tradition eating whale meat. Just that there are so many threads on the evil Japanese whaling is racist while there is not one mention of Japanese beef farming for instance.

    If you are a vegeterian why is it not worse to kill 1,000,000 cows than 1000 whales a year?
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