Skip to main content
ad info

 
CNN.com  nature
  Editions | myCNN | Video | Audio | Headline News Brief | Feedback  

 

  Search
 
 

 
NATURE
TOP STORIES

New hurdles hamper Galapagos oil spill cleanup

Insight, Prius lead the hybrid-powered fleet

Picture: Indonesia's Merapi volcano erupts

(MORE)

TOP STORIES

Up to 2,000 killed in India quake; fear of aftershocks spreads

Clinton aide denies reports of White House vandalism

New hurdles hamper Galapagos oil-spill cleanup

Two more Texas fugitives will contest extradition

(MORE)

MARKETS
4:30pm ET, 4/16
144.70
8257.60
3.71
1394.72
10.90
879.91
 


WORLD

U.S.

POLITICS

LAW

TECHNOLOGY

ENTERTAINMENT

HEALTH

TRAVEL

FOOD

ARTS & STYLE



(MORE HEADLINES)
*
  E-MAIL:
Subscribe to one of our news e-mail lists.
Enter your address:
Or:
Get a free e-mail account

 DISCUSSION:
 message boards
 chat
 feedback

  CNN WEB SITES:
CNN Websites
 AsiaNow
 En Español
 Em Português
 Svenska
 Norge
 Danmark
 Italian

 FASTER ACCESS:
 europe
 japan

 TIME INC. SITES:
 CNN NETWORKS:
Networks image
 more networks
 transcripts

 SITE INFO:
 help
 contents
 search
 ad info
 jobs

 WEB SERVICES:
CNN e-store


Toxins taint Norway's whale meat

In Japan, the sale of whale meat is not legal despite the high demand for it  
ENN



Norwegians may have good reason to watch what they eat.

Whale meat and blubber regularly consumed in Norway may contain some of the world's most dangerous toxins, the Worldwide Fund for Nature warns.

A recent WWF analysis of whale meat samples purchased in Norwegian markets in 1999 turned up more than 50 PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), including some chemicals that cause hormonal imbalance.

"If people regularly consume quantities of contaminated whale meat or blubber, they could be putting themselves and their children at risk," said Gordon Shepherd, WWF's director of international treaties. "What is more worrying is the long-term exposure to these chemicals and how they may cause an increase in cancer, affect the immune system and reduce sperm counts."

The findings were below the tolerable daily intake limit set by the Norwegian government, but conservationists say the results present another argument against the resumption of international trade in whale products.

The results come only a few months after the Convention for International Trade of Endangered Species in Flora and Fauna rejected Norway's proposal to reopen international trade in whale products. According to WWF, Norway continues to hold blubber stockpiles in the hope that the ban on whale meat products will be lifted.

Norwegian whalers can legally hunt, sell and consume whale meat and blubber. But beware: In random samples, dangerous toxins were found  

"There is no market at all for the blubber in Norway," said Cassandra Phillips, WWF coordinator for whales. "It is frozen and stored, with the whalers hoping the restriction on international trade will be lifted so they can export it to Japan or Iceland where there is a market. In May 1999, the blubber stockpile was reported as being more than 600 tons."

According to Phillips, the average Norwegian consumes only seven ounces of whale meat per year.

A 1998 study by the International Whaling Commission determined levels of contamination among some marine mammals are so high that the animals would be classified as hazardous waste sites if they were on land.

Several reports circulated at the International Whaling Commission meeting in July about the level of contaminants of whale meat in Japan, Phillips added. "Building on previous studies scientists have just reported new contaminants data from Japan, she said. "They detected mercury some 1,600 times above the government permitted level as well as large amounts of organic mercury and cadmium in whale meat that is widely available."

WWF and the Ocean Alliance are conducting a three-year, around-the-world study of persistent toxins in the world's oceans.

"We are destroying ocean fisheries by contaminating them with heavy metals and chemical pollutants," said Ocean Alliance president Roger Payne. "In the next few years we could lose access to many ocean fisheries; several species are already well on the way to becoming too polluted to eat. I am amazed by how few people recognize the seriousness of this issue."

Conservation groups contend that contamination of whale meat not only represents a human health issue but also contributes to the fact that whales are under various environmental pressures. Those pressures include entanglement in fishing gear, collisions with ships, habitat degradation and climate change on the food supply of whales.

Copyright 2000, Environmental News Network, All Rights Reserved




RELATED STORIES:
Controversy swells around whaling commission meeting
June 29, 2000
Earth Matters: Whales win, sharks lose at endangered species summit
April 28, 2000
Puzzling deaths of gray whales off California coast probed
April 26, 2000
U.N. body rejects bid to resume whale trade
April 18, 2000

RELATED ENN STORIES:
Controversy swells around whaling commission meeting
Norway minke whale kills down
The vulnerable ocean
Land of the rising toxins: Japan struggles with environment
DDT spreading in ocean, study says
Endocrine disrupters travel far, says report
Voyage of the Odyssey: Science saves the whales

RELATED SITES:
Worldwide Fund for Nature
Convention for International Trade of Endangered Species in Flora and Fauna
International Whaling Commission
ENN Whale Quiz
International Fund for Animal Welfare
Sea Shepherd International

Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

 Search   


Back to the top   © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.