Report: Japan is hunting its whales and dolphins to extinction

An "archaic" tradition has killed over a million small cetaceans in the past 70 years

Topics: endangered species, dolphins, Whales, Japan, Environmental Investigation Agency, Hunting, ,

Coastal hunts for whales, dolphins and porpoises — a tradition said to go back centuries — are going wildly unchecked in Japan, according to a new report. From the Guardian:

The coastal hunts, which include the controversial slaughter of dolphins in Taiji are no longer sustainable and should be phased out over the next 10 years, the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency said in a report launched in Tokyo on Thursday.

…The EIA estimates that more than a million whales, dolphins and porpoises have been killed in Japanese waters in the past 70 years.



A lack of transparency in the “archaic industry,” activists say, is responsible for an unsustainable number of smaller cetaceans killed annually. Catch limits set by the Japanese government, the EIA found, can be almost five times higher than the safe limit — most of the quotas are set based on data that’s 20 years out of date, and don’t accurately reflect current population sizes.

Demand from aquariums and sea parks around the world is contributing to the overfishing — in China, a live dolphin can sell for as much as $98,000. But they’re also in demand as a food source. And according to the report, this makes little sense: Consumers of cetacean meat are at risk of ingesting dangerous levels of mercury and other toxins. People in one dolphin-eating community, the BBC reports, were found to have five times the normal mercury levels.

Lindsay Abrams

Lindsay Abrams is a staff writer at Salon, reporting on all things sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @readingirl, email labrams@salon.com.

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott and the friends with whom he recorded in middle school in Texas (photo courtesy of Dan Pickering)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Heatmiser publicity shot (L-R: Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson, Neil Gust, Elliott Smith) (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott and JJ Gonson (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    "Stray" 7-inch, Cavity Search Records (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott's Hampshire College ID photo, 1987

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott with "Le Domino," the guitar he used on "Roman Candle" (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Full "Roman Candle" record cover (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott goofing off in Portland (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Heatmiser (L-R: Elliott Smith, Neil Gust, Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson)(courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    The Greenhouse Sleeve -- Cassette sleeve from Murder of Crows release, 1988, with first appearance of Condor Avenue (photo courtesy of Glynnis Fawkes)

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

Loading Comments...