based on theoretical guidelines for whaling agreed in 1992 by a panel of scientists at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) -- including experts from nations which signed the protest.
"The charges are baseless ... They have failed to do their homework," Norway's whaling commissioner Karsten Klepsvik told Reuters of the call for an end to whaling on Thursday by nations including France, Germany, Australia and Brazil.
"The quota is based on cautious estimates," said Klepsvik.
"Casting doubt on the integrity of our scientists goes over the limit of political criticism," he said.
Lars Walloe, a professor at Oslo university who is chief scientific advisor to the government on marine mammals, also told Reuters: "It's frightening that they make such statements."At the same time, the Norwegians acknowledge that they, like the Japanese, believe that the RMP can be improved through the advance of science:
Improving the quota modelAll fabulous news for whale conservation. Those 12 nations who criticised Norway should be ashamed of themselves - this is the sort of responsible environmental management that ought to be held up as an example for the rest of the world.
A model developed by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) is used by Norway to calculate the annual minke quota. Scientists, both Norwegian and international, are conducting work to improve the model. Preliminary analyses indicate that the current model does not meet the management objectives, it appears to be much more conservative than previously believed.
Prof. Lars Walløe, Norway's scientific advisor, gave a progress report on this work earlier this month to the annual meeting of the Norwegian Whalers' Union. Simply put, he explained, better computers make it possible to perform better simulation trials. When the model was developed in the early 1990s, computers could run such simulation trials for 100 years. Today's computers can run simulation trials for 300 years.
Another line of scientific work is DNA. As with humans, each whale has a unique DNA. Since 1997, Norwegian whalers take a tissue sample from each whale for the DNA-registry, and so far about 5,000 samples have been collected.
At the Norwegian Whalers' Union's annual meeting, Dr. Hans Julius Skaug of the Institute of Marine Research explained the scientific usefulness of DNA knowledge.
He said that with the use of DNA, it is possible to find out whether whales are related or not, and if so, how closely. This information can be used for establishing stock structures, to find out whether whales in one area are different from whales in another area or whether whales from separate stocks or groups mate with each other.
It is also possible to envisage DNA-profiles being used when calculating stock abundance estimates, which currently are based on sighting surveys.
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