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Whale & dolphin meat tested in Japan exceeds mercury limits


Toxic Cuts lr


Whale & dolphin meat samples tested in Japan exceed safe mercury limits


LONDON: The Government of Japan and the country’s largest online marketplace for whale and dolphin meat have been urged to stop turning a blind eye to consumer health after the latest analysis revealed unsafe mercury contamination in 100 per cent of samples tested.

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) tested 13 products purchased from Yahoo! Japan – the only major online retailer to continue to profit from sales of whale and dolphin meat – and an additional seven products from Japanese supermarkets.

Every sample showed mercury contamination exceeding the Japanese Government’s own recommended safe level of 0.4 parts per million (ppm).

In one instance of dried pilot whale meat purchased from Yahoo! Japan, the mercury level was found to be 19ppm – a shocking 47.5 times the safe limit.

Releasing the results today, EIA Oceans Campaign head Clare Perry said: “Time and again, our analysis of cetacean products on sale in Japan has shown them to be riddled with mercury and other pollutants which pose serious threats to human health.

“By continuing to allow Japanese consumers to buy and eat these toxic products in ignorance of the very real risks they pose, the Government and Yahoo! Japan are utterly failing in their duty of care.

“EIA calls on both – and on all retailers of whale and dolphin products in Japan – to stop gambling with consumers’ health and to take swift and decisive action to remove them from the market.”

Among the products from Yahoo! Japan tested by EIA were pilot whale rib cut (18ppm), Baird’s beaked whale jerky (3.7ppm) and stew (7.2ppm), pilot whale spare ribs (13ppm) and roasted whale (10ppm).

Products obtained from supermarkets and identified as deriving from the notorious Taiji drive hunts included dolphin meat (11ppm), dolphin stomach meat (2.8ppm) and whale intestines (10ppm).

Some 50 per cent of the products were not labelled with the name of the cetacean species, in contravention of Japan’s labelling laws.

The full table of toxicity test results is available to view and download here.

Studies of populations that consume cetacean meat and blubber have shown that mercury and other contaminants adversely affect foetal development, including infant immune function, neural development and memory, as well as increasing the risk of developing Parkinson’s, hypertension and arteriosclerosis in adults.


Interviews are available on request; please contact Clare Perry via [email protected].



  1. The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) investigates and campaigns against environmental crime and abuses.
  1. Chemical analysis was carried out Bureau Veritas in Japan
  1. For more information, read the EIA report Toxic Catch: Japan’s unsustainable and irresponsible whale, dolphin and porpoise hunts here.


Environmental Investigation Agency
62-63 Upper Street
London N1 0NY
Tel: +44 207 354 7960