Japan: dolphins and other sea species 'face extinction'

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According to a report by The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), a British environmental group, Japan's hunting of dolphins, smaller whales and porpoises is threatening some species with extinction in its coastal waters.The EIA report says that more than a million such creatures have been killed in Japanese hunts in the past 70 years. And each year thousands are killed despite conservation concerns.
The Japanese government has not commented on the report. But it has consistently defended its coastal whaling as a longstanding tradition, a source of livelihood and necessary for scientific research.The government has also argued that small cetaceans should be excluded from the International Convention on Whaling.
There is also a danger to human health. Studies have found high levels of mercury and industrial chemicals like PCBs in dolphin and porpoise meat; people living in one dolphin-eating community in central Japan have mercury levels five times higher than normal.
The Environmental Investigation Agency goes on to accuse the government of "displaying a lack of responsibility" in ensuring the sustainability of small cetacean populations in Japanese waters - warning that its annual quota of 16,000 dolphins is far too high,  as the quota is based on 20-year-old data and that dolphin populations are much lower now. Catch limits are 4.7-4.8 times higher than the safe threshold.
Anyone who has seen the documentary “The Cove” will know how controversial Japan's annual dolphin hunt can be. Hundreds of animals are driven into a bay where men jump into the water and cut their throats, turning the sea red.

From BBC

October 30th 2013