WASHINGTON, DC (March 10, 2015): Whale meat shipped from Norway to Japan contains levels of harmful pesticides – including aldrin, dieldrin and chlordane – that violate human health standards established by the Japanese Government, according to tests conducted by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.
Over the past two years, Norway has increased exports of minke whale products, shipping more than 137 tonnes of whale meat and blubber to Japan for human consumption.
However, according to documents recently obtained by the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) and the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), Japanese health officials raised concerns about shipments from two Norwegian exporters, Brødrene Astrup Andreassen A/S and Myklebust Hvalprodukter, and recommended the products be returned or abandoned.
“Norway is entirely too focused on making whaling profitable,” said Susan Millward, Executive Director of AWI, “and, as a result, is ignoring the potential harm the whale products pose to its own citizens and those in other countries.”
“Japan is right to take action to prevent the import of toxic Norwegian whale meat,” said Clare Perry, head of EIA’s Oceans Campaign. “However, it should also look to its own cetacean hunts, which provide thousands of tonnes of toxic whale and dolphin products for unsuspecting Japanese consumers, putting them at increased risk of serious diseases, including Parkinson’s disease, arteriosclerosis and diabetes.”
This is not the first time Norwegian whale meat has been the focus of health concerns in Japan. In 2009, whale meat exported by Olavsen A /S and Myklebust Hvalprodukter was rejected for sale in Japan because it contained levels of live bacteria in excess of that permitted.
Problems with contaminated Norwegian whale products are not confined to exported goods. Recent studies by the Norwegian National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research also found unacceptably high levels of organic contaminants – especially dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyl – in whale oil capsules produced for domestic consumption.
Norwegian demand for whale meat has fallen in recent years. To boost domestic sales, and with an eye on new export markets, both the Norwegian Government and its whaling industry are subsidising research, development and marketing of new whale-derived products.
AWI and EIA call on the Government of Norway to stop supporting research into alternative uses for whale meat and blubber and to immediately accept the international bans on commercial whaling and trade in whale products.