FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Toxic Whales

Sea Shepherd had an undercover operative in the Faeroe islands recently, and just days ago, we received shocking images of slaughtered pilot whales with unborn calves having been cut out of the mothers’ bodies. These mammals are killed during what the locals call “the Grind,” but more accurately should be called what it is—slaughter.

The Faroese claim that the Grind is a traditional and cultural right and a source of food, yet the issue of mercury contamination is once again brought to the fore because Faroese chief medical officers Pál Weihe and Høgni Debes Joensen announced in late 2008 that pilot whale meat and blubber contains too much mercury, PCBs and DDT derivatives to be safe for human consumption.

There is a lot of talk from environmentalists about the high level of mercury contamination in certain fish and large marine animals. The fishing industry and pro-fishing lobbyists tell us that this is just vegetarian hippy scaremongering and we should eat all the fish we can because it is good for us.

Because the directors at Sea Shepherd are asked about this so often, I thought it would be an idea to detail some sourced information and let you decide for yourselves.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made this announcement in 2006: “Imported canned ‘chunk light tuna’ (mostly skipjack) contained nearly ten times the level of mercury deemed the cut –off for ‘low mercury’ fish.” The first FDA report on methylmercury in fish appeared in 1994 and warned consumers that shark, swordfish, and albacore tuna contained unsafe levels of mercury; however, under pressure from the tuna industry, a billion dollar enterprise in the U.S., albacore tuna were removed from the warning.

Marion Nestle, chair of New York University’s Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health said, “Everyone should avoid eating much of the fish that are highest in methylmercury—especially shark, swordfish, and tuna…pregnant women and young children should not eat such fish at all.”

Let’s move over to Japan.

Tests on whale meat for sale in Japan have revealed astonishing levels of mercury, according to Andy Coghlan in the New Scientist in 2002. “While it has long been known that the animals accumulate heavy metals such as mercury in their tissues, the levels discovered have surprised even experts. Two of 26 liver samples contained over 1970 micrograms of mercury per gram of liver. That is nearly 5000 times the Japanese government’s limit for mercury contamination.”

At these levels of contamination, a 170 lb man eating just 0.15 grams of whale liver would exceed the weekly mercury intake considered safe by the World Health Organization, say Tetsuya Endo, Koichi Haraguchi, and Masakatsu Sakata from the University of Hokkaido. They carried out research and found that “acute intoxication could result from a single ingestion.”

The above information has numerous sources, but I took the information from Richard Ellis’s book, Tuna – Love, Death and Mercury.

Sharks, swordfish, tuna, whales, dolphins, and other large marine animals tend to be long-lived and carry more mercury than small fish, because they accumulate more mercury as they eat large quantities of the smaller fish and sea life.

Certainly there are fishing industry experts and lobbyists who tell us there is no risk. I wonder how many of these lobbyists allow the pregnant women and children in their families to eat these species…

STEVE ROEST is Chief Executive Officer of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

 

WORDS THAT STICK

?

 

More articles by:

Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael Duggin
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
Nomi Prins 
The Inequality Gap on a Planet Growing More Extreme
John W. Whitehead
Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them
David Swanson
The Abolition of War Requires New Thoughts, Words, and Actions
J.P. Linstroth
Primates Are Us
Bill Willers
The War Against Cash
Jonah Raskin
Doris Lessing: What’s There to Celebrate?
Ralph Nader
Are the New Congressional Progressives Real? Use These Yardsticks to Find Out
Binoy Kampmark
William Blum: Anti-Imperial Advocate
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
Green New Deal Advocates Should Address Militarism
John Feffer
Review: Season 2 of Trump Presidency
Rich Whitney
General Motors’ Factories Should Not Be Closed. They Should Be Turned Over to the Workers
Christopher Brauchli
Deported for Christmas
Kerri Kennedy
This Holiday Season, I’m Standing With Migrants
Mel Gurtov
Weaponizing Humanitarian Aid
Thomas Knapp
Lame Duck Shutdown Theater Time: Pride Goeth Before a Wall?
George Wuerthner
The Thrill Bike Threat to the Elkhorn Mountains
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Selfhood and Her Ability to Act in the Public Domain: Resilience of Nadia Murad
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
On the Killing of an Ash Tree
Graham Peebles
Britain’s Homeless Crisis
Louis Proyect
America: a Breeding Ground for Maladjustment
Steve Carlson
A Hell of a Time
Dan Corjescu
America and The Last Ship
Jeffrey St. Clair
Booked Up: the 25 Best Books of 2018
David Yearsley
Bikini by Rita, Voice by Anita
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail