Norwegian Whale meat contains deadly toxins | WWF
Norwegian Whale meat contains deadly toxins

Posted on 05 July 2000

WWF, the conservation organization, today warned that an initial toxic analysis on Norwegian Minke whale meat and blubber samples destined for human consumption has shown that these contain some of the most dangerous chemicals in the world.
Adelaide, Australia - WWF, the conservation organization, today warned that an initial toxic analysis on Norwegian Minke whale meat and blubber samples destined for human consumption has shown that these contain some of the most dangerous chemicals in the world.

The analysis found over 50 Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), including some dioxin-like PCB's, and known hormone disrupting chemicals (EDC). The test also revealed 25 metals, including organic mercury.* The results come just a few months after the Convention for International Trade of Endangered Species in Flora and Fauna (CITES) rejected Norway's proposal to re-open international trade in whale products.

"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."

Hormone disrupting chemicals can cause behavioural problems and have been implicated in learning disorders in children, as well as liver damage and reproductive problems. Once these chemicals are ingested into the body, they cannot be removed. When a comprehensive analysis can be conducted on more whale samples, WWF will be able to build a better picture of the degree of pollution in whales destined for human consumption.

Norway wishes to trade whale meat and blubber to Japan, but CITES rejected Norway's request to reopen international trade earlier this year. Norway is still holding blubber stockpiles in the hope that one day the international ban on whale meat products may be lifted.

"The IWC needs to take a strong lead in preventing additional whales from being killed, as increased consumption of whale products may lead to public health implications," Mr. Shepherd added.

For further information:

Gordon Shepherd in Adelaide, Australia: tel: +41 76 368 0511

Kyla Evans, Press Officer, in Adelaide, Australia: tel: +41 76 368 0511

Rosslyn Beeby, WWF Australia Media, mobile tel: 0419 520 960

Notes to Editors

* The whale meat samples were all purchased in Norwegian markets and shops in 1999. These preliminary results from WWF show that none of these chemicals have exceeded the World Health Organisation limits. Methyl mercury (organic mercury) is very toxic and bio-cumulative.