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DNA analysis suggests whale meat from sushi restaurants in L.A., Seoul originated from Japan
Date:4/13/2010

identity records of animals killed through Japan's scientific whaling are not released by the Japanese government. In their paper in Biology Letters, Baker and 10 co-authors including "The Cove" filmmakers call for Japan to share its DNA register of whales taken from that country's scientific whaling program and "bycatch" whaling.

"Our ability to use genetics as a tool to monitor whale populations around the world has advanced significantly over the past few years," Baker said, "but unless we have access to all of the data including those whales killed under Japan's scientific whaling we cannot provide resource managers with the best possible science.

"This is not just about better control of whaling itself," Baker added, "but getting a better handle on the international trade of whale products."

In their paper published in Biology Letters, lead author Baker and colleagues from the Korean Federation of Environmental Movements also report on 13 whale products purchased at a sushi restaurant in Seoul, South Korea, during two 2009 visits. The sushi was part of a mixed plate of "whale sashimi," and genetic testing by Baker and OSU's Debbie Steel determined that four of the products were from an Antarctic minke whale, four were from a sei whale, three were from a North Pacific minke whale, one was from a fin whale, and one was from a Risso's dolphin.

Further testing by collaborators from Seoul National University confirmed the individual identity of the whale products by DNA "profiling."

The DNA profile of the fin whale meat from the Seoul restaurant genetically matched products purchased by Baker's colleague, Naoko Funahashi, in Japanese markets in 2007 strongly suggesting it came from the same whale.

"Since the international moratorium, it has been assumed that there is no international trade in whale products," Baker said. "But when products from the same whale are sold in Japan in 2007 and in Korea in 2009,
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Contact: Scott Baker
scott.baker@oregonstate.edu
541-867-0255
Oregon State University
Source:Eurekalert

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