Share this article

Japanese consumers who buy whale meat are often actually getting highly contaminated dolphin meat and blubber, according to the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).

The EIA, a watchdog organisation with offices in London and Washington, claimed yesterday that nearly 50% of the ‘whale meat’ on the market is actually the flesh of small cetaceans, such as dolphins and small whales.

The figures were collected from a study carried out by the EIA last year on ‘whale’ products bought in 42 and Japan’s 47 prefectures. Follow up independent studies using DNA analysis confirmed the EIA’s findings.

Clare Perry, EIA senior campaigner, told the Kyodo News: “Consumers are being deliberately misled into buying contaminated products, while dolphins and porpoises are being wiped out to satisfy a false market demand.

“This is a potentially catastrophic situation for both the hunted animals and the consumer.”

The investigations revealed that meat from bottlenose dolphins, striped and spotted dolphins and short-finned pilot whales was being sold as whale meat, and these animals do not “have healthy enough populations to withstand continued hunting”.  

Furthermore, chemical analysis of the products revealed extremely high levels of toxicity, for example a high level of mercury, said the EIA. These often exceeded the permissible levels of toxins in Japan.