20 Jun 2011 : Column 1P

Petition

Monday 20 June 2011

Observations

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Dolphins (Japan)

The Petition of residents of Workington,


Declares that the petitioners believe that there is a need to raise awareness both nationally and internationally about the slaughter of thousands of dolphins each year in the waters around Japan; notes that it is estimated that some 23,000 dolphins are slaughtered each year in the area of Taijii; further declares that the petitioners believe that there is a need to raise awareness for the majority of Japanese citizens, who are unaware that this is going on in their country; and notes that the petitioners believe that the dolphin meat which is highly contaminated is being distributed to an unaware Japanese public protected by a Government that knows the dangers of this practice and the risks to health it poses.


The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to take steps to raise awareness of the slaughter of dolphins and urges the Foreign Secretary to call on the Japanese Government to prevent the distribution of contaminated dolphin meat.


And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Tony Cunningham , Official Report, 15 September 2010; Vol. 515, c. 970.]

[P000860]

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Observations from the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:

The UK Government strongly oppose the hunting of all whales, dolphins and porpoises other than some limited whaling by indigenous people to meet defined subsistence need. The UK regularly raises its concern at both European and International level over the dolphin hunts in Japan. We continue to call on Japan to halt its needless and unsustainable slaughter of these animals and are deeply disappointed that Japan continues to carry out these large-scale hunts, despite widespread international opposition.

The Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for Newbury (Richard Benyon) who is responsible for marine and natural environment, wrote to his Japanese counterpart in July 2010 to express the UK public’s concern and Government officials have met with the Japanese Government to highlight the UK’s opposition to the hunting of dolphins.

Dolphin meat has been reported to be highly contaminated with toxic chemicals such as mercury, methyl mercury and PCBs. At the annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission, we urged whaling nations to take note of the consequences of contamination for the animals themselves and also for the consumers. We called for more nations to inform consumers about the associated health risks of contaminated meat.

The UK remains fundamentally opposed to the killing of dolphins in Japan and will continue to make it known at every appropriate opportunity, including at this year’s meeting of the International Whaling Commission in July.