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Yahoo! Japan selling mercury-contaminated whale meat

TOKYO, Japan: Environmentalists today called on Yahoo! Japan to ban all sales of whale, dolphin and porpoise products on its fee-based Store and Auction sites after discovering that whale products sold via the Yahoo! Japan sites were contaminated with toxic mercury pollution. Mercury can cause brain and neurological damage in humans.

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), a non-profit environmental group based in Washington DC and London UK, released new results of eight whale products purchased recently from Yahoo! Japan Store sites and tested by a laboratory in Japan earlier this month.

Five of the products exceeded the Government of Japan’s safety guidelines for mercury contamination in seafood for human consumption. The average concentration of mercury in the eight products was 1.78 parts per million (ppm), more than four times higher than the ‘safe’ level of 0.4ppm set by the Government.

One whale meat sample was more than 16 times the limit for mercury at 6.5ppm. The sample was sold as “dried whale from Taiji”. Taiji is the town where the Oscar-winning documentary The Cove documented mass killing of dolphins in the nearby bay.

Clare Perry, EIA’s senior campaigner who released the mercury results today in Tokyo, said today: “Yahoo! Japan has a responsibility to end the sale of whale, dolphin and porpoise products to ensure that mercury-contaminated products are no longer sold to their internet customers. Thousands of dolphins, porpoises and small whales continued to be killed around the coast of Japan, posing a threat to the health of anyone who consumes such products.”

Kitty Block, Vice President of the Humane Society International, said today: “Yahoo! Japan is the biggest internet retailer in Japan and we appeal to it to help protect both the people of Japan, who may eat these contaminated products, and also the whales, dolphins and porpoises that are killed in their thousands around the coast.”

This is the second time EIA has tested whale products sold via Yahoo! Japan Store sites. In 2010, similar tests found that 50 per cent of 10 samples of whale meat sold via Yahoo! Japan exceeded the safe levels for mercury contamination.

The mercury test results were provided to Yahoo! Japan but the company has refused to take any action to stop the sale of whale, dolphin and porpoise products via its store or auction sites.

Japan suffered one of the world’s worst mercury poisoning tragedies, discovered in the town of Minamata in 1956, after a nearby company dumped large amounts of methylmercury waste into Minamata Bay over many years. Thousands of people suffered severe nervous system damage as a result, and almost 1,800 died.

For further information, contact:

Clare Perry, EIA, in Tokyo on 09039139616, or email

Kristen Eastman, Humane Society International, in Washington DC on 301 721 6440, or email

Photos and Video of the products and full laboratory test results are available on request


1. The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) investigates and campaigns against environmental crime and abuses.

2. Humane Society International and its partner organisations together constitute one of the world’s largest animal protection organisations, backed by 11 million people. For nearly 20 years, HSI has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide. On the Web at Follow HSI on Twitter. See our work for animals on your iPhone by searching “HumaneTV” in the App Store.