Showing posts with label Whaling. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Whaling. Show all posts

April 11, 2015

Whale Meat Soaking with Mercury being Sold by Yahoo and Soft Bank in Japan


           An environmental group says that mercury-contaminated marine mammal 

           products are for sale on Yahoo Japan.


Whale and dolphin meats being sold for human consumption on Yahoo Japan have potentially dangerous levels of poisonous mercury, a report released on Wednesday charged.
Of 13 whale and dolphin products purchased online, all contained mercury levels that exceeded the Japanese government’s recommendation of 0.4 parts per million or fewer, according to the group Environmental Investigation Agency, which commissioned the testing. EIA described Yahoo Japan as “the country’s largest online marketplace for whale and dolphin meat.”
The company is a joint venture between Yahoo and Softbank.
Yahoo's American representatives did not respond to requests for comment.
A sample of dried pilot whale meat purchased from Yahoo Japan contained 19 ppm of mercury—47.5 times over the government safety limit. A pilot whale rib cut contained slightly less at 18 ppm, while pilot whale spare ribs contained 13 ppm, and roasted whale contained 10 ppm. Baird's beaked whale jerky and stew tested at 3.7 ppm and 7.2 ppm, respectively. 
Some of the store-bought cetacean meat products also had excessive mercury levels, according to the report. Dolphin meat contained 11 ppm of mercury, dolphin stomach meat contained 2.8 ppm, and whale intestines contained 10 ppm. These products were labeled as originating from Taiji, Japan, the location of controversial annual dolphin hunts
“This is yet another reason why whales and dolphins should not be considered as food,” EIA Oceans Campaign head Clare Perry said in an email. “Their existence is threatened by a myriad of human caused problems, including chemical pollution to such an extent that it actually makes them toxic.”
Perry said that Yahoo Japan has not responded to her group’s requests for a dialogue and that “Yahoo US has been unable or unwilling to exert sufficient pressure on Yahoo Japan to take any action.”
It’s unclear whether mercury levels in whale and dolphin meat have increased over time, Perry said. “We are still comparing these data to our previous studies, but it’s hard to say with a fairly limited data set. There are studies showing rising mercury levels in some fish species and Baird’s beaked whales have higher than average levels over the 10-plus years we’ve been testing.”
Overexposure to mercury in food can harm neurological development in fetuses, infants, and young children, leading to problems with learning and memory, among other issues. Among adults, mercury poisoning from food increases health risks, including hypertension and coronary artery disease.
Canned albacore tuna sold in the United States contains an average of 0.32 ppm of mercury, while canned light tuna has 0.12 ppm, according to the Environmental Defense Fund.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Food and Drug Administration jointly recommend that young children should eat only one to three ounces per week of albacore tuna. Women who are or might become pregnant, or are breast-feeding, should eat no more than six ounces of albacore tuna per week and avoid entirely four fish known to have high levels of mercury: Gulf of Mexico tilefish, shark, swordfish, and king mackerel.
Animal rights activists have long contended that alerting Japan’s consumers to the dangers of mercury contamination in whale and dolphin meat would stifle demand, eventually driving the industry out of business. So far, that hasn’t happened.
Some activists believe the Japanese government is blocking the message.
“Consumers in Japan are not told the truth about the serious health risks linked to consumption,” said Ric O’Barry, head of the Dolphin Project and star of The Cove, a documentary on the Taiji drives.
O’Barry, in collaboration with the Japanese group Elsa Nature Conservancy, has tested dolphin and whale meat since 2003 and found all of it containing dangerously high levels of mercury as well as polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs—human-made compounds that can cause cancer and other health problems.
“The annual dolphin slaughter is not only an issue of animal rights,” O’Barry said. “It’s also one of human rights."
If the Japanese government isn’t informing the public, consumer and parenting groups should step in to fill the gap, according to Perry. Meanwhile, more pressure should be put on purveyors of the toxic products, she said.
 “We look to the major retailers like Yahoo Japan to set an example and ban the sale of contaminated whale, dolphin, and porpoise products,” Perry said. “Many retailers already have. Japan’s leading retailers, such as Aeon, Ito-Yokado, and Seiyu, do not sell these products.” 

February 28, 2013

Japan’s Loosing Taste for Whaling!

Fin whale 2013
A fin whale surfaces off the coast of Long Beach, California on Jan. 19, 2012. Despite being classified as a threatened species, the fin whale has become one of the more popular kinds of whale meat available in Japan. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

  TOKYO, Japan — Japan’s declining appetite for whale meat is nothing new; but is the country also losing patience with its whaling industry?
The answer is yes, according to a new report that highlights the huge cost to the Japanese taxpayer of sustaining its whaling fleet. Without government subsidies, the industry would collapse, it said.
“Whaling is an unprofitable business that can survive only with substantial subsidies and one that caters to an increasingly shrinking and aging market,” according to the report, released earlier this month by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).
According to data provided for the first time by fisheries authorities, Japan’s government has approved subsidies totaling more than 30 billion yen ($320 million) between 1987 and last year.
The fleet of between four and six vessels that leaves for the Antarctic every winter costs the taxpayer about $10 million dollars a year, according to IFAW. Last year the subsidy included 2.28 billion yen ($20 million) in funds intended to aid the reconstruction of the region devastated by the March 2011 tsunami. The government’s excuse: that some of the affected communities had a tradition of coastal whale hunting.
With thousands of tons of whale meat left unsold amid a dramatic decline in consumption, the government can never hope to recoup its investment, said Patrick Ramage, director of IFAW’s whale program.
“Whaling is an economic loser in the 21st century,” he said. “We have been saying for years that whaling has no economic future, but here it is in black and white in this report.”
The document details the steady decline in whale meat consumption since its peak in the 1960s, and the rising cost of keeping the aging whaling fleet seaworthy.
Polling conducted on IFAW’s behalf by E-Square, a Japanese public research company, shows that whale meat consumption has fallen to about 1 percent of its peak in the 1960s. Current stockpiles of unsold produce have increased to nearly 5,000 metric tons, about four times greater than they were 15 years ago.
In late 2011, the government tried to shift some of the stockpile by holding public auctions, yet 75 percent of the meat remained unsold, according to figures compiled by the journalist Junko Sakuma.
The Cetacean Research Institute, a quasi-governmental body that oversees the scientific hunts, claims the aims of the whaling program are strictly scientific and that it was never intended as a commercial venture.
The International Whaling Commission (IWC) banned commercial whaling in 1986, but a clause in the moratorium allows Japan to kill more than 900 whales every winter and to sell the meat on the open market. The idea is to use the profits to fund the following winter’s slaughter in the Southern Ocean.
“Shrinking demand and slow sales show that this is a declining industry,” said Toru Watanabe, a policy analyst who chaired the team that drafted the E-Square report. “For these and other structural reasons, whaling is not economically sustainable.”
Despite claims by supporters that whale consumption is a deep-seated culinary tradition, the biggest obstacle in the way of a commercially viable industry is the Japanese consumer: almost 89 percent of Japanese had not bought whale meat in the previous 12 months, according to an IFAW survey released late last year.
In addition, more than 50 percent of Japanese had no opinion on their country’s whaling program, while 26.8 percent said they supported it and 18.5 percent were opposed.
Those figures hardly point to an emphatic rejection of a tradition its supporters say stretches back hundreds of years, but campaigners claim the public’s patience with large-scale Antarctic whaling is wearing thin.
“Even people who support whaling oppose the use of taxpayer’s money going into the industry, particularly money that was intended for the tsunami recovery effort,” said Naoko Funahashi, IFAW’s representative in Japan.
The report’s release coincided with signs of yet another showdown between the Japanese whaling fleet and activists from the marine conservation group Sea Shepherd in the Antarctic, and fresh attempts by Australia to remove the whalers from its exclusive economic zone. Canberra has also taken its campaign to stop the research hunts to the International Court of Justice, where a ruling could come later this year.
Could Sea Shepherd’s “sabotage” tactics, which include hurling rancid butter on to the decks of harpoon vessels, actually be harming the anti-whaling cause? Watanabe believes the group, described as “eco-terrorists” by the whaling lobby, may have hindered the conservationist cause. “Violent incidents at sea actually help Japan promote whaling at home,” he said.
The industry is also protected by a “committed core group” of fisheries agency bureaucrats and politicians who use international criticism to boost their case for lethal research, according to IFAW's Ramage.
“They’ve effectively married the funding issue to an argument that says anyone who criticizes whaling is anti-Japanese or that whale meat is fundamental to Japanese food culture,” he said. “But this report shows that the Japanese people don’t buy that argument any more than they’re buying whale meat.”
That argument doesn’t convince Professor Masakuyi Komatsu, a former agriculture ministry official who believes many Japanese consumers have been priced out of the market. To bring prices down, he believes the IWC ban should be lifted so that Japan can catch at least 1,000 whales a year.
“For older Japanese, whale meat is something special that you are happy to pay a premium for,” said Komatsu, who teaches ocean and marine resource policy at the national graduate institute for policy studies in Tokyo.
“But young people have never experienced the taste. It’s not special to them and there are plenty of other sources of protein they can turn to. Japan needs to sell whale meat at a competitive price, similar to that of pork or chicken, and to do that it needs to increase its annual catch.”
Many Japanese are reluctant to express an opinion on whaling, at least in public; two recent anti-whaling demonstrations in Tokyo were low key and received next to no coverage in the domestic media.
“Generally speaking, people don’t know much about the issue because they’re not presented with the facts,” Komatsu, a critic of the misuse of tsunami funds, said. “The government spent disaster funds on whaling, but I would say that most people don’t know how much money was used.”
Whaling alone may not be the cause of Japan’s obstinacy; some worry that if the country stops catching whales, other species — namely endangered bluefin tuna — will follow.
“For obvious historical and geographical reasons, unfettered access to marine resources matters a great deal to Japanese policy makers,” Ramage said. Politicians can appear loyal by saying that any notion of ending whaling would also be a threat to Japan’s history as a great maritime nation; that if they yield on whales, tuna will be next.”

October 5, 2011

Sea Shepherd’s Operation Divine Wind to save Whales From Japan’s Slaughter

Photo: Gary StokesPhoto: Gary StokesThis will be the season that defines the future for the whales of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Japan’s Asahi News has confirmed that the Japanese whaling fleet will return to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
It makes little political or economic sense for the Japanese fleet to return to the coast of Antarctica, but their motivation has now shifted from hunting whales to refusing to surrender to Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
The Japanese government has said that it is not in the national interest of Japan to give in to pressure from Sea Shepherd. To this end, the Japanese government has allocated 27 million Australian dollars to enhance security for the Japanese whaling fleet. Already some 200 million dollars in debt, the whaling fleet continues to be an economic burden on the Japanese people.
“It is an insult to all the anti-whaling nations that so generously contributed to the relief of the tsunami and earthquake victims,” said Captain Paul Watson. “They have accepted foreign aid to help the victims of that tragedy, and are now shifting funds to perpetuate this illegal and obscene massacre of defenseless whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. It now seems they are simply obsessed with killing whales not for need, and not for profit, but because they believe they have the right to do what they wish and kill whatever they wish in an established international whale sanctuary, just for the sake of defending their misplaced “honor.” It’s a disgrace and a smack in the face to everyone who stepped forward to help in their time of need.”
Sea Shepherd will return to the remote waters for their 8th Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign with a stronger anti-whaling fleet in early December 2011 to protect the great whales.
“They will have to kill us to prevent us from intervening once again,” said Captain Watson. “Are the Japanese people ready to take human lives in defense of this horrifically cruel and illegal slaughter of endangered and protected species of whales? Do we have to die to appease Japanese honor? If so, my answer to the Japanese government is “hoka hey” (Lakota for ‘it’s a good day to die’), and we will undertake whatever risks to our lives will be required to stop this invasion of arrogant greed into what is an established sanctuary for the whales.”
Operation Divine Wind will send over 100 volunteers to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary to defend the whales.
“If we don’t stop them, who will?” said Peter Hammarstedt of Sweden, First Officer on the Bob Barker. “We intend to stop them and we will stop them – that’s a promise.”
Operation Divine Wind will be the eighth year that Sea Shepherd has sent ships to the coast of Antarctica to frustrate the profits of the Japanese whaling fleet. Each year Sea Shepherd has gotten stronger and more effective, saving over 800 whales during last year’s Operation No Compromise.

also see from eralier today: Japan resumes whale hunting

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Japan resumes whaling

October 4, 2011

Japan resumes Whale Hunt

Japan says it will hunt whales in the Southern Ocean this winter and will send a Fisheries Agency ship to guard its whalers against promised intervention by a conservation group.
"The Fisheries Agency will send a patrol boat and take increased measures to strengthen the protection given to the research whaling ships," Fisheries Minister Michihiko Kano said at a news conference Tuesday.
At its annual meeting in July, the International Whaling Commission passed a resolution calling on its member countries "to cooperate to prevent and suppress actions that risk human life and property at sea."
Last winter, Japan cut its planned December-to-April hunt two months short after anti-whaling activists from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society repeatedly interfered with the whaling vessels.
Sea Shepherd claims it saved 800 whales by its actions during last season's hunt. Japanese whalers killed 171 minke whales and two fin whales during the Antarctic hunt, according to IWC figures.
In a statement issued last Friday, Sea Shepherd vowed to take on the whaling vessels again.
“They will have to kill us to prevent us from intervening once again. ... We will undertake whatever risks to our lives will be required to stop this invasion of arrogant greed into what is an established sanctuary for the whales,” Sea Shepherd's leader, Paul Watson, said in a statement on the organization's website. Sea Shepherd will have more than 100 people in the Southern Ocean to block the Japanese whaling fleet, according to the statement.
Kano said Japan wants to continue research whaling with the aim of establishing that whale stocks are sufficient to resume a full commercial hunt in the future, according to Japanese media reports.
Sea Shepherd contends that the research hunts are a sham, with meat from the hunts being sold to consumers and served in restaurants.
Australia's government condemned Japan's decision to resume its research hunt and its plans for future commercial hunts.
"The Australian government remains opposed to all commercial whaling, including so-called 'scientific whaling.' We will keep working to achieve a permanent end to all commercial whaling," Environment Minister Tony Burke said in a statement.
"Australia believes Japan's whaling is contrary to international law and should stop," Australian Attorney General Robert McClelland said.
Japan also hunts whales in the Northern Pacific, taking 100 sei whales, 50 Bryde's, 119 minke and three sperm whales last season, according to the IWC.
Iceland and Norway also conduct whale hunts. Aboriginal whale hunts are permitted in the Danish territory of Greenland, the U.S., Russia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

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