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March 1, 2011

Yahoo! Japan Selling Mercury-Contaminated Whale Meat

Humane Society International

TOKYO (March 1, 2011)—Environmentalists on Monday called on Yahoo! Japan to ban all sales of whale, dolphin and porpoise products on their fee-based store and auction sites after discovering that whale products sold via the Yahoo! Japan sites were contaminated with toxic mercury pollution. Mercury can cause brain and neurological damage in humans.

The Environmental Investigation Agency, a non-profit environmental group based in Washington and London released new results of eight whale products purchased recently from Yahoo! Japan Store sites and tested by a laboratory in Japan earlier this month. Five of the products exceeded the government of Japan’s safety guidelines for mercury contamination in seafood for human consumption. The average concentration of mercury in the eight products was 1.78 parts per million, more than four times higher than the “safe” level of 0.4 set by the government of Japan.

One whale meat sample was more than 16 times the limit for mercury at 6.5 parts per million. The sample was sold as “dried whale from Taiji.” Taiji is the town where the Oscar winning documentary “The Cove” documented mass killing of dolphins in the nearby bay.

Clare Perry, EIA’s senior campaigner who released the mercury results in Tokyo, said that “Yahoo! Japan has a responsibility to end the sale of whale, dolphin and porpoise products to ensure that mercury contaminated products are no longer sold to their Internet customers. Thousands of dolphins, porpoises and small whales continue to be killed around the coast of Japan posing a threat to the health of anyone who consumes such products.”

Kitty Block, vice president of Humane Society International, said, ”Yahoo! Japan is the biggest Internet retailer in Japan and we appeal to them to help protect both the people of Japan who may eat these contaminated products, and also the whales, dolphins and porpoises killed in the thousands around the coast.”

This is the second time that EIA has tested whale products sold via Yahoo! Japan store sites. In 2010, similar tests found that half of 10 samples of whale meat sold via Yahoo! Japan exceeded the safe levels for mercury contamination.

The mercury test results were provided to Yahoo! Japan, but the company has refused to take any action to stop the sale of whale, dolphin and porpoise products via its store or auction sites.

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The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) is a UK-based non-governmental organisation and charitable trust (registered charity number 1040615) that investigates and campaigns against a wide range of environmental crimes, including illegal wildlife trade, illegal logging, hazardous waste, and trade in climate and ozone-altering chemicals.

Humane Society International and its partner organizations together constitute one of the world's largest animal protection organizations — backed by 11 million people. For nearly 20 years, HSI has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide — On the Web at hsi.org. Follow HSI on Twitter.

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