A Report of Mercury Contamination

Dolphin Meat from the Recent Drive Fishery in Futo
was Highly Contaminated by Mercury

Posted: 14 Mar. 2005
Revised: 29 Aug 2011

Elsa Nature Conservancy (ENC) acquired a slice of meat from a bottlenose dolphin that was captured by the drive fishery in Futo and butchered on November 11, 2004. ENC immediately sent it to Hokkaido, asking Dr. Tetsuya Endo at the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Health Sciences University of Hokkaido to examine it for mercury contamination.

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

According to Dr. Tetsuya Endo, the same meat is well estimated to contain 6~7 ppm of methyl mercury, which is about 20 times higher than the maximum advisory level of 0.3 ppm set by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry of Japan, though the result of its anylysis has not come out yet. This estimation is based on his long research experience as well as on the results of mercury analysis done by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry of Japan so far, Dr. Endo said.

In 2002 and 2003, ENC sent several packs of dolphin meat from Miyagi prefecture, which were sold in Ito City and in a town named Kawazu, southern part of Izu peninsula, Shizuoka prefecture, to the local governmental Inspecting Center of Public Health in Ibaraki Prefecture and Dr. Tetsuya Endo at the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Health Sciences University of Hokkaido. The inspection by both the Inspection Center and Dr. Endo proved that all of the meat was contaminated by mercury, and especially one pack of dolphin meat showed as much as 5.69ppm of mercury, which is 14.2 times higher than the maximum advisory level. The meat was from Miyagi, not from Ito/Futo drive fisheries, but the supermarkets in Ito city stopped selling dolphin meat for a considerable time in 2003.

Contaminated Dolphin meat should not be sold, and the drive fishery should be stopped:

The Inspecting Center of Public Health in Ibaraki Prefecture once advised that the meat whose mercury contamination exceeds the maximum advisory level of 0.4 ppm should be disposed. Eating poisoned dolphin meat is a serious health hazard, causing damage to the brain and nervous system, especially can be dangerous for young children and pregnant women.

ENC reported the result of the mercury inspection of dolphin meat that was acquired from the recent drive fishery in Futo, warned its high leveled contamination, to the placed concerned, and requested to stop selling dolphin meat as well as to end the drive fishery itself.

The Asahi, the Yomiuri, and the Mainichi, the biggest three newspapers in Japan, reported this contamination news on their local edition. Their readers estimated far more than 300,000 in all. However, the local newspaper such as the Izu and the Shizuoka ignored this news. It is said that they fear their readers to cancel their subscription if they report the contamination.

What we can do:

Write a letter to the following places and warn them that contaminated dolphin meat can harm the health of citizens and tourists. Ask them to end the drive fishery of dolphins and stop selling dolphin meat.

Places to send a petition letter:

* Mr. Hiromi Tsukuda, Mayor of Ito City
E-mail: seisaku@city.ito.shizuoka.jp

*Mr. Shoji Kuboya, Chairperson of Ito City Council
E-mail:gikai@city.ito.shizuoka.jp

* Mr. Heita Kawakatsu, Governor of Shizuoka prefecture
E-mail: koe@pref.shizuoka.lg.jp / Fax. +81-54-221-2419
or you can reach him through the International Affairs Office
E-mail: web-kokusai@pref.shizuoka.lg.jp

* Department of Food Safety, the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare
E-mail: syokucommunication@mhlw.go.jp
Fax: +81-3-3503-7965

Thank you for your help. We really appreciate it.

Hereinbefore, ENC revealed that dolphin meat from Futo and Miyagi prefecture was contaminated by mercury. However, mercury contamination is not found only among dolphins killed in Futo, Shizuoka, or Miyagi. Dolphins captured and killed in Taiji, Wakayama prefecture, must be naturally highly contaminated with mercury and other pollutants.

ENC continues its activities to stop the drive fishery, warning how cruel and unsustainable the method of the drive fishery is as well as how dangerous to eat highly contaminated dolphin meat.

Notes:
Elsa Nature Conservancy has continued the tests of dolphin meat from Taiji, Wakayama prefecture, and Okinawa. All of the samples we tested were contaminated by mercury, whose levels were much higher than the provisional regulatory levels set by our Government. Almost all of them showed methyl mercury and PCBs, many of which showed the levels higher than the regulatory levels. See the tables.

Table 1: A Report of Toxic Substances in Dolphin Meat 2011
Table 2: A Report of Toxic Substances in Dolphin Meat 2002-2008

 

TOP