humpback whales and 50 fin whales a year for 16 years. The full programme commenced in late 2007 following a 2-year ‘feasibility study which began in late 2005 in which 935 minkes and ten fin whales were targeted annually.
Although it cannot prevent the research taking place, the IWC requires the review of Scientific Permits by its Scientific Committee. However, unlike other scientific reviews this is far from independent and the reviewers include the authors of the permit, including researchers at the Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR), which oversees the hunts and conducts the ‘research’. This is a clear conflict of interest since the ICR sells the meat from the hunts and benefits financially from increases in the programme.
The new JARPA II permits were considered by the Scientific Committee in 2005 before JARPA I had even completed its data collection and before the full results of its 18 years of research were available. A large number of the Scientific Committee members objected to the review taking place on the basis that so little data from JARPA I had been published in international peer- reviewed literature that it was not possible to judge quality of Japan’s research or its relevance to the management of whales by the IWC. Sixty-three members of the Scientific Committee argued that it would be “scientifically indefensible” to conduct the review and pointed to serious flaws in Japan’s scientific justification for the program. The review of JARPA I results took place in December 2006 and the results were reported to the IWC at its May 2007 meeting. A workshop of the IWC Scientific Committee found that ‘none of the goals of JARPA 1 had been reached, and that the results of the JARPA 1 programme are not required for management under the RMP.’ (IWC 59/27 – resolution of the IWC).
“Bycatch” whaling In 2009, published DNA analyses of whale meat from Japanese markets indicted that as many as 150 large whales, from vulnerable coastal stocks were taken annually as bycatch by
Japan changed its legislation to
allow the commercial sale of
whales caught incidentally; entangled in fishing nets designed to catch coastal fish.
A high percentage of the whales sold (as much as 46%) proved to be from an endangered stock of minke whales, the J-stock. According to IWC population estimates, this high rate of bycatch poses a significant threat to the survivability of the J-stock; if these trends continue, the stock could face extinction within a few decades.
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