Sunday, January 24, 2016

ISSUES: Scientists - "Japan's whaling is unscientific"

A chart of whaling by Japan from 1985-2006. Br...
A chart of whaling by Japan from 1985-2006. Brydes, Fin, Minke, Sei and sperm whale catches in the Antarctic, North-West Pacific and costal Japan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Japan's whaling is unscientific

Japanese whalers are back in the Southern Ocean, aiming to kill 333 minke whales â€"ostensibly for the purposes of scientific research €" under special permits issued by their government. In our view, the science behind Japan'€™s whaling activity has not passed a reasonable standard of peer review.
We are members of the International Whaling Commission'€™s Scientific Committee (IWC-SC), plus one independent expert witness (M. Mangel) whose evidence contributed to the March 2014 negative ruling on Japan’s JARPA II whaling permit by the International Court of Justice (ICJ; see A. S. Brierley Nature 520, 157; 2015). In 2015, Japan submitted a new whaling proposal (NEWREP-A). The IWC-SC coordinated two rounds of review, including one by an independent expert panel that concluded that lethal sampling had not been justified. Numerous IWC-SC members recommended exploration of widely used non-lethal alternatives (see, for example, A. M. Polanowski et al. Mol. Ecol. Resour. 14, 976â€"987; 2014) before killing is resumed.

Japan claims to have €œsincerely taken into account the IWC-SCâ€s opinion, but, as on previous occasions, has failed to alter its plans in any meaningful way and is proceeding to kill whales under a self-determined quota. In October 2015, Japan also rejected the jurisdiction of the ICJ on this issue.
We believe that further discussion of special-permit whaling at IWC-SC under the present procedure â€" in which the opinion of proposers is afforded equal weight to that of referees is a waste of time. The IWC urgently needs to develop a process of scientific review that results in clear decisions that can be respected by all.

Andrew S. Brierley* University of St Andrews, UK.
Phillip J. Clapham* Alaska Fisheries Science Center, Seattle, USA.

*On behalf of 31 other signatories (listed below).

The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of the governmental, academic or private institutions with which the authors are affiliated.
  • Andrew S. Brierley University of St Andrews, UK. asb4@st-andrews.ac.uk
  • Phillip J. Clapham Alaska Fisheries Science Center, Seattle, USA.
  • C. Scott Baker Oregon State University, Newport, USA.
  • Sarah Baulch EIA International, London, UK.
  • Maria Begoña Santos Instituto Español de Oceanografía, Centro Oceanográfico de Vigo, Vigo, Spain.
  • Per Berggren Newcastle University, UK.
  • Robert L. Brownell Jr NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center, Granite Canyon, California, USA.
  • Cristina Castro A. Pacific Whale Foundation, Puerto López, Manabí, Ecuador.
  • Jean-Benoit Charrassin Sorbonne Universités (UPMC, Univ. Paris 06)-CNRS-IRD-MNHN, LOCEAN-IPSL, Paris, France.
  • Luis Chasqui Velasco Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas y Costeras INVEMAR, Santa Marta, Colombia.
  • Justin Cooke Centre for Ecosystem Management Studies, Emmendingen, Germany.
  • Rohan Currey Ministry for Primary Industries, Wellington, New Zealand.
  • Pierre Gallego Esch sur Alzette, Luxembourg.
  • Bárbara Galletti Vernazzani Centro de Conservación Cetacea,Vitacura, Santiago, Chile.
  • Helena Herr Institute for Terrestrial and Aquatic Wildlife Research, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Foundation, Buesum, Germany.
  • Yulia V. Ivashchenko Alaska Fisheries Science Center, Seattle, Washington, USA.
  • Giancarlo Lauriano ISPRA â€" Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale, Rome, Italy.
  • Russell Leaper University of Aberdeen, UK.
  • Marc Mangel (ICJ Independent Expert Witness) University of California, Santa Cruz, California, USA.
  • Milton Cesar C. Marcondes Humpback Whale Institute, Caravelas, Bahia, Brazil.
  • Fabia de Oliveira Luna National Aquatic Mammal Center/ICMBio, Itamaracá, Pernambuco, Brazil.
  • Simone Panigada Tethys Research Institute, Milan, Italy.
  • Stuart A. Reeves Cefas, Lowestoft, UK.
  • Vincent Ridoux Observatoire PELAGIS, UMS 3462 CNRS-Université de la Rochelle, La Rochelle, France.
  • Fabian Ritter M.E.E.R. e.V., Berlin, Germany. 
  • Javier Rodríguez-Fonseca Fundación Promar, San José, Costa Rica.
  • Beatriz A. Roel Halesworth, UK.
  • Howard Rosenbaum Wildlife Conservation Society-Global Conservation, Bronx, New York, USA.
  • Meike Scheidat IMARES Wageningen UR, Ijmuiden, the Netherlands.
  • Mark Simmonds University of Bristol, UK.
  • Michael Stachowitsch University of Vienna, Austria.
  • Paul Wade Alaska Fisheries Science Center, Seattle, Washington, USA.

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