31 Aug 2006

Death comes easy

Earlier this year, pro-whaling nations won a vote by the narrowest margin (33-32, with 1 abstention) to implement a “sustainable consumptive use of whale stocks". 
Japan has declared its intention to double its catch of minke whales for “scientific research”. This annual catch will also include - for the first time since the International Whaling Commission (IWC) imposed a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986 - at least 50 each of humpback and fin whales for research. There is, of course, no independent verification of the number of whales actually taken. Catch sizes are voluntary declarations, the real number of whales killed could be substantially higher.

Japan maintains that hunting whales is a part of its cultural heritage, which other nations have no right to condemn. Commercial interests dictate the warped logic that an increased whale populations have led to the depletion of global fisheries stocks. But there are contradictory claims that a glut in the Japanese markets have led to whale meat being sold as pet food.

On another note, researchers are now developing a “scooping” technique to accurately measure the age of whales, without having to kill them. “If the technique works, it would put a large nail in the coffin of Japan's argument for a scientific whaling programme," says Phil Clapham, a whale biologist at the National Marine Mammal Laboratory in Seattle, Washington.

Nature, it appears, is easily flogged.

1 comment:

david said...

Achieving the sustainable use of whale stocks has always been the goal of the IWC.

Japan has in fact already doubled its minke whale quota. Under it's JARPA programme the sample size was 400 minke whales +/- 10%, but under the new JARPA II programme which commenced last austral summer the new sample size is 850 minke whales +/- 10%. 853 minke whales were sampled last year, despite publicity stunts from Greenpeace that attempted to obstruct this from happening. People who donated $25 to Greenpeace hoping they would stop the hunt should realise that the money is wasted.

Also, the comment here says that for the first time since the moratorium was imposed that humpback and fin whales will be hunted.

In fact, both these species had been protected by the IWC since well before the moratorium - the humpback was protected fully in the 1960's.
See my coverage here:

Furthermore, this coming summer only 10 fin whales will be sampled. The full scale JARPA II programme under which 50 whales of eah species will be taken does not start until the summer of 2007/2008.

The characterisation of the argument surrounding whales and fish stocks is incorrect. The argument is that unnaturally protecting one predator species in the ecosystem may have lead to imbalances. In the Antarctic, this is not a concern as there is no overlap between fisheries and whales, but in the North West Pacific at least, direct competition between fisheries and whales has been observed, and as such many nations are interested in this being appropriately quantified. It is not realistic for humans to restrict their activities for the conservation of the ecosystem while ignoring a major component of the ecosystem, which large predator whale species represent in certain places.

The only whale "meat" sold as pet food is stuff like the small intestines.
See here:
Do you eat cow intenstines? I doubt it, but your pet dog probably does.

The argument that age information can be gained from collecting dandruff is very poor - Even if the data can be obtained for a single whale (not verified yet), it is still an opportunistic method. The JARPA II programme randomly selects 850 whales from the research area - if those 850 whales selected don't oblige by shedding their skin, the information can not be obtained. How easy is this going to be in the Antarctic?
More here:

Even one of the Australians trying to develop this new technique has admitted that it isn't going to stop scientific whaling:
"Gales, who heads the Australian delegation for the scientific committee of the IWC, thinks it wouldn't. "But at least we can use it to apply more political pressure," he says."

Don't be fooled by activist scientists with overt political agendas.