Dangerous Delicacy: Toxic Truth of Dolphin Meat in Japan

A Japanese firm’s fish product was discovered to contain mercury levels 100 times higher than what was legally allowed.

The specimens contained only a tiny amount of fat tissue taken from Risso’s dolphin, one of the cetaceans found in the waters around Taiji, the most southern Japanese town known for its dolphin hunting.



Two offal samples contained mercury levels of up to 97.5 times, more than 80 times that of regulations, and could be considered a breach of Japanese guidelines on food. Australian conservation organization Action for Dolphins announced on the 22nd of May.

Dolphins can be killed, hunted down, and eaten around a few places, including Taiji, situated within Japan and the Faroe Islands and Peru, regardless of the opposition of animal rights organizations, often because of moral or health-related reasons.

The experts suggest that high levels of mercury, similar to those detected in the test, may be dangerous if consumed often and can cause damage to the liver and kidneys.



Dolphins are believed to possess high levels of mercury that they build up from the seafood and marine animals they eat. Mercury can be detected in the oceans through naturally occurring sources, like volcanoes and eruptions, and human-related actions, like burning coal.

Action for Dolphins said they had submitted a formal complaint to Japanese police earlier in the month. It requested the fish be taken from the market due to high levels of mercury.

Based on its standards, the Japanese health department cautions consumers that fish and seafood with mercury levels greater than 0.4 parts per milligram of mercury in total and 0.3 mg ppm for methylmercury are in danger for human consumption.

Hannah Tait, head of Action for Dolphins, said in a statement that tests that date back a decade have revealed “potentially toxic levels” of mercury in fish and whale meats sold around the globe.



The dolphin samples were sold through Yahoo! Japan, one of the most well-known online stores. Advocates for the organization have demanded that Yahoo! stop selling products containing dolphins and whales in the same way that Japan’s top online marketplace for e-commerce, Rakuten was able to do in 2014. According to a statement addressed to the Guardian newspaper, Yahoo! Japan has denied selling dolphin meats on its site and has only meat from whales.

Action for Dolphins, earlier known as Australia for Dolphins, has struggled for a long time against dolphin hunting in Taiji, which was the main focus of the Oscar-winning film The Cove. The Japanese government has been fighting hunts for dolphins, even as the market for the flesh of dolphins is decreasing, and the vast majority of people of Japan don’t eat it.

 

Also read about The Human Toll of the Tokaimura Incident: Hisashi Ouchi’s Story

 
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