Whale watching is better than whale eating. Photo courtesy International Whaling Commission.
Schoolchildren in Japan eat so much whale meat that Japanese Government is inadvertently carrying out a scientific research project to determine how much mercury Japanese schoolchildren can consume without becoming ill or dying or becoming permanently brain damaged.
Why? The Government of Japan’s “Scientific Whaling Research Program.”
As background, people have been concerned about the killing of whales for a long time. Originally, this was to keep them from being hunted to extinction and depriving the world of an important protein source. Now most oppose hunting whales because we humans have observed that whales are intelligent. Probably more intelligent than us which would not be difficult.
In the aftermath of the massive destruction of life and property in World War Two, the US and our allies set up the International Whaling Commission (IWC) by the terms of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling signed in Washington, D.C., United States, on 2 December 1946.
In 1982, the International Whaling Commission banned commercial whaling but there are various ways to wiggle out of this, one of them being to tell the commission to piss off which is what Russia along with Norway and Iceland have done.
The Japanese, however, want a legal fig leaf so they apply to hunt whales under the “scientific research” clause.
In 2010 Australia brought a case against Japan challenging their so called “scientific whaling” in the Antarctic. In March 2014, the International Court of Justice at the Hague ruled in Australia’s favor, declaring that Japan’s scientific whaling program in the Antarctic was not scientific.
In spite of this, in early November of 2014, the Japanese Fisheries Agency informed the International Whaling Commission that they intend to catch 333 minke whales each year between 2015 and 2027.
The Japanese hunt and kill these whales in the he Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, a 50 million square kilometer area surrounding the continent of Antarctica where the International Whaling Commission (IWC) has banned all types of commercial whaling.
Not so fast say the Japanese. We are only doing research. We’re not killing whales just to eat them. So they have to keep killing whales to continue their “scientific whaling program” which the International Court of Justice at Hague has just ruled unscientific.
Since they aren’t actually conducting a scientific research project the Japanese Fisheries Agency ends up selling almost all of the whale meat to the public for consumption. A lot of whale meat is sold to public schools. This is unfortunate as you shall see.
Quoted in the Daily Beast of 2.15.13: “According to the Mainichi News, about 100 metric tons of whale meat is served in school lunches per year in Japan. The Ministry of Education says that it encourages schools to serve local specialties to their students, as long as the dishes meet the national nutritional standards set per meal for children.”
According to Ric O’Barry, Campaign Director of the Dolphin Project for the Earth Island Institute in a long blog post:
“We know, from Japanese scientists, that dolphins and small whales are heavily contaminated by mercury. No one should be eating meat from dolphins and small whales.
Yet the Japanese government, fully aware of the dangers of mercury contamination, ignores this problem and allows mercury-poisoned dolphin and whale meat to be sold in markets. Japanese consumers are exposed to danger but not warned….
Mercury is the second most toxic poison in the world, second only to plutonium. Mercury attacks the brain and the nervous system, causing horrible damage to eyesight, hearing, and motor-skills, as well as interfering with memory and thought processes leading to dementia. It further attacks fetuses in pregnant women, causing terrible life-long brain damage. Mercury kills…….
Japanese scientists, such as Dr. Tetsuya Endo, have conducted extensive scientific studies of mercury contamination of dolphin and small whale meat. Dr. Endo and his colleagues have found time and time again….
Mercury levels can be 20 to 5,000 times higher in dolphin and small whale meat than levels recommended by the UN World Health Organization and the Japanese Ministry of Health.”
The entire article as well as all the links to the sources of research documenting the danger to public health by eating whale meat and dolphin meat are in Mr. O’Barry’s post which is at the link above.
Therefore I disagree with the point that the Japanese Government’s scientific whaling project is not scientific. Of course it is scientific. Why? They are conducting a legitimate scientific research project to see how much mercury schoolchildren can consume. Unfortunately the parents of these children are not informed of this.
Why does the Fisheries Agency and the Japanese Government continue this charade? The Yakusa–organized crime. The penetration of Yakusa into Japanese institutions including banks, various levels of government, even the armed forces is apparent but hard to quantify.
Several years ago, I interviewed a senior official of Greenpeace who is highly knowledgeable of the worldwide fishing industry generally and whaling in specific. He told me point blank that the entire fishing industry in Japan was controlled by the Yakusa including the government department responsible for the annual whale hunts.
Like most things in the world which continue even when they should not, follow the money and you will discover the reason. Killing whales and selling their meat makes money for the Yakusa. Simple. Will this ever stop. Probably not.