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Monday, 24 August 2009

Whaling as a Science

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Japan makes every effort to justify its continued whaling through scientific research, but just how viable is that research?
Japan’s scientific whaling program in the North Pacific (JARPN) was originally described as a feasibility study, but it included no performance measures by which to judge its success or failure. To no one’s surprise, it was judged “successful” by Japan, and the full program (JARPN II) began in 2002.
The Japanese program in the Antarctic (JARPA) has similar problems. JARPA has been conducted for 16 years and has to date killed over 5900 minke whales.Yet as was noted in last year’s SC discussions, the value of JARPA’s work to management is certainly not apparent in its publication record, which is remarkably poor for a scientific effort on this scale.
In short, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that JARPN II exists to “demonstrate”—all data to the contrary notwithstanding— that whales eat too much fish and therefore should be culled by more whaling.
Bearing in mind the length of time the Japanese have been carrying out lethal research (16 years at the time of this article). Their research provided only ONE relevant paper to the IWC Scientific Committee (SC). When the IWC themselves were able to provide 19 of their own without such lethal requirements!
The list to which they refer readers (see www.whalesci.org/contribution) includes only a single paper (Kishino et al. 1991) that concerns IWC assessment needs and that is published in an international peer-reviewed journal; 19 similar papers were published by IWC. The remaining 137 “publications” consist of ... peer-reviewed articles (12) on topics of no value to management (e.g., “postthawing viability of frozen spermatozoa of male minke whales”). JARPA’s failure to publish in international refereed journals says much about the quality and motives of its science.


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