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David @ Tokyo

Perspective from Japan on whaling and whale meat, a spot of gourmet news, and monthly updates of whale meat stockpile statistics



IWC 2006: Greenpeace's anti-science criticisms

This blog's resident European armchair environmentalist regurgitated some comments which are regularly bandied about by Greenpeace and their ilk (see John Frizell's response to me for an example), and it's worth addressing them in detail once and for all here.
"In the 31 years prior to the introduction of the commercial whaling moratorium, only 840 whales were killed globally by Japan for scientific research."
It's widely accepted that there was a lack of scientific knowledge prior to the introduction of the moratorium, and the problems this caused for whale management. Despite the ICRW stating that ammendments to the Schedule be based on scientific findings, this wasn't the case, and scientific advice was (as it is now) regularly ignored.

The IWC/SC had called for more research in 1972 when a 10 year moratorium was first proposed:

"By consensus the Scientific Committee agreed that a blanket moratorium could not be justified scientifically. The Scientific Committee ... recommended an expanded whale research program in place of a blanket moratorium ."

This expanded whale research program didn't happen, however.

The IWC's New Management Procedure (NMP) that was devised around that time was also scraped eventually as (amongst other reasons) it wasn't specific about the standards of data it required for implementation.

Post moratorium, the IWC/SC committed itself to it's "comprehensive assessment" of whale stocks, and the Revised Management Procedure (RMP) was devised. The RMP addressed the flaws of the NMP and, as I've noted before, not only did the entire scientific committee recommend it, but the politicians of the IWC agreed to adopt it in 1994.

As it was prior to the moratorium, the IWC/SC is still ignored today (the RMP still hasn't been implemented 11 years later), but now the IWC ignores it's Scientific Committee in favour of the vociferous anti-science NGO groups instead. This suggests that a swing back to the center can't be far off.

Ideally politicians shouldn't be entrusted to make these decisions at all. They have no incentive to vote in accordance with science, and the powerful NGO groups through their high profile PR campaigns make sure that they have reason not to.
More than 6,800 Antarctic Minke Whales have already been killed in Antarctic waters under the 18 years of the Japanese Whale Research Programme.
And for their long term commitment to improvement of scientific knowledge, Japan ought to be commended. More emphasis must be placed on science in the future of whale management at the IWC.

Greenpeace however like to claim that the research is all an elaborate sham. Yet this claim isn't supported by the IWC Scientific Commitee. The IWC's own homepage notes that in a review of the programme at it's halfway point the IWC/SC had this to say of the Japanese research:

"The results of the JARPA programme, while not required for management under the RMP, have the potential to improve it in the following ways: (1) reductions in the current set of plausible scenarios considered in Implementation Simulation Trials; and (2) identification of new scenarios to which future Implementation Simulation Trials will have to he developed (e.g. the temporal component of stock structure). The results of analyses of JARPA data could be used in this way perhaps to increase the allowed catch of minke whales in the Southern Hemisphere, without increasing the depletion risk above the level indicated by the existing Implementation Simulation Trials of the RMP for these minke whales."

This is perfectly in line with the goals of the ICRW, which are to
Of course, Greenpeace never mentions this.

Instead they selectively extract just 7 words reading "not required for management under the RMP", criticising the research on these grounds - yet that is not the point of the research. Japan hopes to improve scientific knowledge even further, so that an even better management procedure can in future be possible. As Dr Doug Butterworth has noted, the RMP is

"so risk averse that the only real scientific basis for questioning its immediate implementation is that it is so conservative that it will waste much of a potential harvest."

All ICRW signatories should therefore be doing what they can to contribute to improved scientific knowledge such that the deficiencies of the RMP may too be addressed. Ironically while Japan's action are fully in line with the goals of the ICRW, it is Japan that is the target of criticism!

This is the difficulty in the whaling debate - Greenpeace's aim is to ban whaling, where as Japan's aims remain consistent with the goals of the ICRW - conservation of whale stocks while making for the development of the whaling industry.

Greenpeace's criticism is thus clearly not in terms of the applicability of Japan's research to the goals of the ICRW, but of the relevance of Japan's research to Greenpeace's ideals. Naturally Greenpeace would argue against further research, as Greenpeace's ideal is for there to exist as much scientific uncertainty regarding whale stocks as possible.

The reason the Institute for Cetacean Research doesn't publish its research outside the IWC, is because then it would be subject to international peer review from a number of different scientific disciplines.
As South Korea's Hwang Woo-suk and his research team have recently discovered to their cost.

As long as the ICR just 'presents' their research to the IWC, they do not have to face rigorous evaluation of their methods and conclusions from scientists outside the IWC, as well you know.
Those wishing to see a list of the very large number of 'unpublished' papers submitted to the IWC by the ICR concerning whaling critical issues, can go to -


and open -

Annex E1 : List of Scientific Papers Arising out of JARPA (IWC48)

Amongst the generalised papers that have been given exposure at Societies and Symposiums (about whales but not directly linked to whaling), I was intrigued to discover that the ICR likes to use the Scientific Conference for the Society for breeding of the DOMESTIC (my capitals) Animals!!! as an opportunity for promoting its studies. :-)
If you don't have anything on-topic to say, why bother?

It's a JOKE that you choose to question the credentials of the IWC/SC committee to be able to review the research - again more ad hominem, aka John Frizell.

As the IWC's homepage notes: "The Scientific Committee comprises up to 200 of the world's leading whale biologists. Many are nominated by member governments. In addition, in recent years it has invited other scientists to supplement its expertise in various areas."

My open-minded readers will consider this and be wondering who on earth you, my resident sofa environmentalist, think would be better qualified to review whale research than such a group of scientists?
Hmmm, they will think - believe the ramblings of an anonymous blogger poster "lamna nasus", or information contained on the pages of the international organization that is the International Whaling Commission? I dunno... tough choice...

The IWC/SC even includes several scientists nominated by anti-whaling commissioners that Greenpeace and co. happily quote ad nauseum!

Your statements are almost as big a joke as the anti-whaling "scientist" who last year asked to remain nameless when stating that his/her decision to refuse to participate in a review of the JARPA II research proposal was because an "independent review had not been performed". Some scientist, if he needs others to do his homework for him!

Having made my point about the IWC/SC, as I noted in the main post I again note that the IWC/SC has agreed that Japan's research has the potential to improve whale management, which is of course entirely in accordance with the goals of the ICRW which all IWC member nations are signatory to.

You may be happy to plug your ears and cover your eyes to this, but I thank you for again giving me the opportunity to reiterate that point here, in addition to the examples of support from scientists from non-whaling countries that I noted previously in my response to John Frizell.

As you obviously don't want to *discuss* this topic, let me give you another bone to play with:

What do you see as the implications of research from Butterworth and Johnson in 2005 that indicates that the west australian humpback breeding population will "approach its pristine level in some 10 years" and the eastern population which was more heavily depleted (due mainly to British / Australian whaling) "in 15-20 years"? (Being soo well read, I'm sure you've seen this)

What do you see as the implications for the endangered blue whale stock in light of the fact that there is competition amongst baleen whales in the antarctic for the available supply of krill?

What I think is this: thank heavens that people like you aren't any where near the decision making table, but god help us if it's true about the degree to which armchair "environmentalists" have the power to influence the principle-bare politicians of the world.
As I have already stated the ICR doesn't publish its pro-whaling research outside of the IWC, because its methods and conclusions are flawed.

'200 biologists' many of whom do not belong to the ICR or agree with all its findings, despite your continued disingenuous attempts to suggest otherwise.

I will research why you have not supplied a link to the origional UNPUBLISHED research -

'Johnston, S.J. and Butterworth, D.S. 2005. Assessment of the west and east Australian breeding populations of Southern Hemisphere humpback whales using a model that allows for mixing on the feeding grounds and taking account of the most recent abundance estimates from JARPA. ?? document: JA/J05/PJR19: 1–30.' -

and instead merely refer to 'implications'.

Is this the same DS Butterworth who is a Professor of Maths and Applied Maths at the University of Cape Town?

Is this the same DS Butterworth who recently produced the 2005 SUMMARY OF A PRELIMINARY MODEL (my capitals) of the Minke Whale - Blue Whale - Krill Interaction in the Antarctic with Mitsuyo Mori?

Am I going to discover that a mathematician has been supplied with 'figures' by a rather less than independant source to give their data 'legitimacy' via a mathematical model based on hypertheticals?

Readers will find out soon.

'Independant review' by peers, is of course how real scientists differentiate between genuine science and statistics of the kind that David is so enamoured with.

'competition amongst baleen whales' -

How did nature managed to survive without mankind to ensure sustainable balance for hundreds of millions of years?!
Its just an incredible piece of good fortune for all other species, that homo sapiens evolved in the nick of time to stop it all going pear shaped and impose some
sort of order!

:-):-) :-)

- Lamna nasus
Update to my last post -

Professor Douglas Butterworth, of the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and a member of the IWC Scientific Committee.

So thats a yes to two of my questions.
Prof. Butterworth it turns out is used by quite a wide number of different fisheries organisations to do mathematical modelling based on their data.

'Their data' being the critical point!
Prof. Butterworth is an eminently competent mathematician, but he relies on data supplied by others in the case of this study, and I quote - 'abundance ESTIMATES' (my capitals). Which brings us to....

JARPA - Japanese Whale Research Program under Special Permit in the Antarctic.

With the authorization and support of the Japanese government, the Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR) started JARPA on 1987/88 and executed the long-term program with duration of 18 years including a two-year feasibility study. JARPA ended in the spring of 2005.

So Prof. Butterworths modelling is based on data supplied by a research institute that has clearly stated its support of a return to commercial whaling; further a research institute that is sponsored by a government and industry that has clearly stated its support of a return to commercial whaling!

But to be fair, the IWC has indicated that independant observers are welcome on the new study - JARPA II . During the two years of feasibility study (2005/06 and 2006/07).
So who is actually going to be involved in JARPA II?

Say a big HELLO to -

Research crew:

Research leader: Shigetoshi Nishiwaki (Director, Survey Division, ICR),
with 15 scientists from the INSTITUTE OF CETACEAN RESEARCH (my capitals)

Research fleet and crew (Including an inspector from the Government and researchers):

Research mother ship
Nisshin Maru
(8,030 tons Capt. D. Toyama; crew: 149)

Sighting/sampling vessel
Yushin Maru No. 2 (747 tons, Capt. K. Matsuzaka; crew: 19)

Yushin Maru
(720 tons, Capt. T. Miura; crew: 19)

Kyo Maru No. 1
(812.08 tons, Capt. K. Hirose; crew: 22)

Dedicated sighting vessel Kyoshin Maru No. 2 (372 tons, Capt. K. Takeshita; crew: 21)

Kaiko Maru
(860.25 tons, Capt. K. Minami; crew: 22)

-Institute of Cetacean Reserach, Media Release, 7 November 2005.

So the 'data' is still being supplied by the Pro-whaling faction, the same bunch who have been proven over a very long period to supply inaccurate data -

'Falsified statistics of catches were systematically reported to the IWC Secretariat for decades. More than 90,000 kills went unreported, including tens of thousands of "protected" species: at least 46,000 humpbacks, 8,000 blues and 3,000 right whales.

The extent of poaching was wide ... the secret Soviet whaling industry killed major populations of whales not only in the waters of New Zealand and the Antarctic, but also in the northwestern part of the Indian Ocean, and in the southwest Atlantic.

Much of the poaching took place under the eyes of JAPANESE INSPECTORS (my capitals) in the Antarctic waters.

IWC rules were not lived up to by a single Soviet flotilla."
- Soviet Antarctic Whaling Data.

This data is then laundered by Prof. Butterworth's perfectly respectable mathematical modelling!!!

I'll leave the final comment to S. J. Johnston and D.S.Butterwoth, because David deliberately left some very important information out of his quote!

'Best estimates are projected under CONTINUING ZERO HARVEST (my capitals) and show approaches to pristine levels in some 10 years for the western and 15-20 years for the more depleted eastern breeding population.'

No response to my question regarding the implications of increasing humpback populations for species such as the Blue whale that compete for krill - I duly note this.

> '200 biologists' many of whom do not belong to the ICR or agree with all its findings.

Many of whom are nominated to the IWC/SC by commisioners from anti-whaling nations, and have a clear political agenda to work to - some of them are notably involved with anti-whaling organizations such as IFAW. Do you need names?

That's not to mention a certain group of those scientists who last year chose to break the IWC's own rules of document confidentiality by releasing a politically motivated "scientific" criticism of the JARPA II programme prior to the commencement of the IWC meeting.

Not to mention the "scientist" who said the reason for a minority group of the IWC/SC's refusal to participate in the JARPA II research proposal was mainly because there hadn't been an independent review - this from a scientist who is supposed to be qualified enough to make his/her own scientific judgements!

Indeed, it has been observed that the anti-whaling groups are attempting to politicise the IWC/SC - despite the clear need to scientific independence in matters regarding conservation.

> Am I going to discover that a mathematician has been supplied with 'figures' by a rather less than independant source to give their data 'legitimacy' via a mathematical model based on hypertheticals?

Besides your usual tactic of slander, do you actually have ANY scientific opinion to back this up?
On the contrary, the results from the Japanese programmes have been generally consistent with the results of other scientific studies. You're left floundering, trying to slam the research without providing ANY basis for such a claim other than "oh but we can't trust the Japanese!"

Again my readers are left to ask themselves - is "lamna nasus" making up conspiracy theories in a desperate attempt to cling to his irrational idea that whaling can never be sustainable?

>How did nature managed to survive without mankind to ensure sustainable balance for hundreds of millions of years?!

Wake up to reality - the world you live in is a world where humans ARE a part of the eco-system - no matter how much you try to avoid this reality, it's not going to change to match your hallucinations.

The reality is that human actions can effect other species. Rational human beings can recognise that just as human actions have the potential to result in reductions in the numbers of other species, so too can our actions increase the numbers of other species. One does not have to be a cetacean scientist to realise this. There are a wealth of examples to choose from as proof.

That said - why won't you answer my question regarding the evident increase in humpback populations, and the potential consequences for other species in competition with the humpback species, such as the very very endangered Blue whale?

Or is your tactic to continue to close your eyes, block your ears, and pretend that there is no possible concern?

My readers will be wondering how much you really care about the environment, versus how much you simple wish to stubbornly cling to your irrational fairyland ideas.

> So Prof. Butterworths modelling is based on data supplied by a research institute that ha

Putting aside your continued baseless ad hominem attacks on the ICR, you obviously haven't done your homework very well either.
Dr. Butterworth uses data from ALL available sources.
You've obviously gone out trying to find dirt on Dr Butterworth, struggled to come up with anything, and thus resorted to making up a story that says everything his research shows is based on data from the ICR (a falsity in itself) which you have also baselessly claimed can not be trusted. You are manufacturing your whole argument!

If you did read Butterworth's research, you probably had your eyes closed to this fact the first time around, so maybe try to open your eyes and mind to it when you re-read it now - Butterworth's research relies on a range of data sources.

> But to be fair, the IWC has indicated that independant observers are welcome on the new study - JARPA II .

But of course. The Japanese have nothing to hide. The only ones with something to hide are your Greenpeace bunch who refuse to tell their supporters the full story.

You then go on to try to associate the modern day JARPA research programmes with commercial over-hunting from prior to the moratorium?! How dishonest do you want to get?! My readers aren't stupid - to be convinced of your point of view they need to see logical arguments based on facts, not made up assertions.

> I'll leave the final comment to S. J. Johnston and D.S.Butterwoth, because David deliberately left some very important information out of his quote!

You think it's important, and I will show you why it isn't.

> 'Best estimates are projected under CONTINUING ZERO HARVEST (my capitals) and show approaches to pristine levels in some 10 years for the western and 15-20 years for the more depleted eastern breeding population.'

Calculate the number of whales going to be taken as a percentage of the current stocks (estimated to have been growing at approx 10% since the late 1980's), and see what value you get. Compare it with the growth rate. The difference this would make to the full recovery of these stocks is going to be negligible compared to the 5 year range (15-20) given for the eastern stock. You are kidding yourself if you think there would be any signficant decrease in the pace of the recovery as a result of Japan's planned hunting.

This is getting easier and easier. If there was still any doubt that you are anti-science, you've proven it once and for all this time.
I have already addressed all the points raised by David, in previous posts.

Since this debate is now going round in circles; I would like to thank everybody who has felt interested enough to drop by and read the contributions from both sides of the argument and David for providing the forum.

Tootle Pip!
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