Earth Island Institute

ECO: The environmental voice at the IWC

ECO is published by Earth Island Institute’s International Marine Mammal Project at the meeting of the International Whaling Commission on behalf of environmental and animal welfare organizations around the globe.

For further information, please contact: Mark J. Palmer, Associate Director, Earth Island Institute, International Marine Mammal Project.

Previous volumes of ECO are available here.


Volume LXIII · Isle of Jersey, United Kingdom · No. 1 · Friday July 1, 2011

Acrobat .pdf of issue No. 1

What Will Japan Do With Whaling?

Japan’s commercial – sorry, we meant scientific – whaling is in trouble. The biggest unasked question before the IWC this year is “What Will Japan Do?” A look at the problems associated with Japan’s whaling suggests it is time for the Japanese government to seek some major changes: The company responsible for distributing Japan’s scientific whale meat announced earlier the astonishing fact that whale meat consumption had dropped 30 percent in 2010.While whale meat consumption has been historically declining for many years as fewer Japanese eat whale meat, we believe this dramatic drop in 2010 can be also attributed to the success of efforts by such groups as the Environmental Investigation Agency,…
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And What Will US Do?

The second head-scratcher at this year’s IWC meeting is what will the US delegation do? For the last four years, the US delegation tried and tried to cut a sleazy deal with Japan to allow Japan to legalize its so-called “scientific” whaling as commercial whaling. Repeatedly, the US bashed friends and criticized all in a failed effort to strike a deal acceptable to the voracious Japan Fisheries Agency and their minions. The vague deals that surfaced during these negotiations invariably had Japan continue killing whales, just not as much as the past few years, in exchange for legitimate commercial quotas and at the expense of the commercial whaling moratorium. Will the US…
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Philippines Warns of Toxic Whale Meat

The government of the Philippines has issued a warning that eating whale and dolphin meat poses a toxic hazard. The killing and possession of meat from dolphins, whales, sea turtles and manta rays is illegal in the Philippines. Dr. Alessandro Ponzo with the Philippine Information Agency issued a press release on June 4th, noting that such meat is often highly contaminated with mercury and should not be eaten by anyone. “These large marine animals are on top of the food chain and their consumption of pollution-contaminated fish makes their bodies a collector of these toxic substances.” The press release notes that eating them puts one at risk of Minamata disease. “Many tests…
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Toxic Pollutants Found in Blubber

New research shows that dolphins accumulate toxins and pollutants in their blubber in relation to their geographic proximity to human populations. According to a Discover article, scientists believe that, since human eat at the same trophic level as dolphins, the accumulation of toxins in dolphins can be a measure of what people are exposed to who eat fish in the same area. Toxins found in blubber include PCBs, PBDE flame retardants, and the banned DDT (still at high levels despite being banned in the US since the mid-1970s). These compounds are known or believed to cause cancer, neurological damage, and/or interfere with reproduction. The exposures, long-term life, and toxicity of these chemicals…
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Greenpeace Japan Case: Embezzlement by Whaling Industry

Greenpeace reports that, on May 24th, Greenpeace Japan executive director and anti-whaling activist Junichi Sato called on the Sendai High Court to dismiss last year’s conviction of himself and colleague Toru Suzuki, after they exposed embezzlement within Japan’s whaling industry. Known as the “Tokyo Two,” Sato and Suzuki were convicted of “theft and “trespass” by the Aomori District Court in September 2010. They had discovered boxes of whale meat illegally taken from whaling vessels to the homes of whaling industry personnel. Although Sato and Suzuki’s findings were confirmed in December 2010 when officials from Japan’s Fisheries Agency admitted to improprieties in the handling of whale meat, the High Court has not allowed…
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Environmentalists Urge US Economic Sanctions Against Iceland

Environmental and animal welfare organizations in the US have filed a petition, under the US Pelly Amendment, to certify that the government of Iceland is undermining the effectiveness of the IWC and urging the Obama Administration to impose sanctions. When Iceland rejoined the IWC in 2002 after a ten-year absence, it lodged a reservation to the moratorium, an unprecedented action that a number of nations opposed. (But Japan, Norway, and Japan’s client nations voted to allow Iceland to join with this questionable objection in place.) Iceland has been hunting the minke whale and the endangered fin whale in the north Atlantic under its reservation since 2006. When a secret “deal” with Japan…
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Radioactive Minke Whale Meat?

Yet another looming problem for Japan’s declining whale meat market: A Sankei newspaper article on May 24th stated that the Japan Fisheries Agency tested whale meat that was caught on the 15th of May, and 31 Becquerels of cesium per kg were detected. The Fisheries Agency claims this is much lower level than the 500 Becquerels level that is set by the Japan Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare Agency. This whale meat had already been sold at the market to consumers. There was no clear connection with Fukushima nuclear plant, according to the newspaper. Two other minke whales were checked, without finding any radiation. Then, as Ric O’Barry of Earth Island…
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