Joreimaru Whale Specialty Store, an online seller of mercury-laden dolphin meat sourced from Taiji, has stopped trading on Yahoo! Japan. Furthermore, their own website is not currently operating. This leads us to believe we’ve successfully halted their online sales altogether.
What is the health concern with consuming dolphin meat?
Dolphins can accumulate high levels of toxins like mercury in their bodies, which can be harmful to humans’ health if consumed regularly. The World Health Organisation considers mercury to be one of the top ten chemicals of major public health concern.
Mercury is a naturally occurring element in the Earth’s crust. It is absorbed by small bacteria, where it then works its way up the food chain into fish and shellfish. Large predatory fish and mammals often have higher levels of mercury than smaller fish due to the process of bioaccumulation.
Humans are at risk of mercury poisoning from the continued consumption of large fish and sea mammals such as dolphins and whales. Ingesting high levels of mercury can have many adverse effects on human health. Dr Russell Fielding, Assistant Professor at Coastal Carolina University, has found that, “long-term exposure to Hg (mercury) has been tied to negative neurological, cardiovascular, developmental, immunological, and reproductive human health effects in humans.”
The Minister for Health, Welfare and Labour in Japan recommends levels below 0.4 parts per million of total mercury is safe for human consumption. However when we tested two dolphin samples from the Joreimaru Whale Specialty Store in October 2022, we found that these samples contained 82 times and 97 times more mercury than the level recommended by the Minister.
How did we achieve this outcome?
This achievement is a testament to the power of collective action. Our campaign has strategically leveraged the toxic levels of mercury found in dolphin meat to pressure suppliers into halting their sales.
This was not an overnight victory, but the result of many small actions that added up to one big win. This wouldn’t have been possible without the dedication and support of our incredible community. It is proof that when we unite our voices and take decisive action, we can bring about change.
Dolphin defenders from around the world made it possible to:
- Lodge a criminal complaint, leading to an ongoing police investigation
- Leverage the media to raise awareness, including articles in The Guardian, VICE, Nature World News, and the Sydney Morning Herald
- Build public pressure on Joreimaru and Yahoo! Japan.
This milestone is also an essential step towards our larger goal – disrupting the economic viability of dolphin hunting in Taiji.
So, what’s next for our campaign?
Next, we’ll be targeting the Taiji Fishermen’s Cooperative who sell dolphin meat online and in-store in Taiji.
In 2021, we launched a criminal complaint against this seller and in the coming months we plan to appeal the decision by the Prosecutor’s Office not to pursue legal action.
Our strategy remains the same – to emphasise the public health risk associated with consuming dolphin meat laden with toxic mercury and thereby push for these products to be removed from sale.
Thank you for standing with us and for the dolphins. With your continued support, we’re confident we can bring about even more positive change.