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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: 700 new humpbacks - where is the risk Prof Harrison?

More news on the ever-increasing Humpback stocks.

Little has changed since I wrote about this here, here, and here last year. Oh, and here as well.

Peter Harrison expects the an additional 700 humpback whales to be added to the population this year, yet he still chooses to make almost completely unfathomable statements that "Japan's scientific whaling program was putting the whale population recovery at risk".

Japan plans to take only 10 humpback whales in the next austral summer - that's a miniscule number of the entire population, and only a miserable 1.4% of the increase that Harrison expects this year.

Instead of a small number of whales being removed from the population each year, would Harrison still hold his concerns about risk to the stock were it only growing at a rate of say 9% (630 whales), instead of 10% (700 whales)?

I'd rather see 700 new whales and the ICR take 10 from the entire population, than have only 630 new whales and the ICR take none.

One can but wonder how long Harrison intends to keep up this almost inexplicable fear-mongering, when at least one scientific model shows that the western and eastern breeding humpback populations off Australia are likely to be close to pristine levels within the next 10 to 20 years. The ICR has produced analyses indicating that the impact on stock recoveries to their pristine levels by a removal of 50 humpbacks each year will be negligable.

At the very least, I'd like to see Harrison try to actually put some meat on the puny skeleton of an argument he makes that there is significant risk to the Humpback population from the JARPA II programme. The ball is firmly in his court to stump up with a rational argument as to why the world should be concerned about the JARPA II programme impact on humpbacks.

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Hi David,

'I'd rather see 700 new whales and the ICR take 10 from the entire population, than have only 630 new whales and the ICR take none.'

Are you genuinely trying to suggest that there is a shred of scientific logic for your claim that the ICR taking 10 animals will guarantee that a forecasted 700 infants will not only appear but survive and then go on to reach maturity?!!

As last time you referenced their report, you disingenuously present Johnston and Butterworth's work as though it supports your argument when it does no such thing.

'Best estimates are projected under continuing zero harvest, and show approaches to pristine levels in some 10 years for the western and 15-20 years for the more depleted eastern breeding population.'

Thats ZERO harvest, not 50, not 10, thats zero as in none, of an Internationally protected species under BEST estimates.

Further interesting reading from Johnston and Butterworth's report -

However, if no account is taken of the JARPA abundance estimates (Sensitivity 3, Table 6c), the productivity (r) for population W is notable less, as is the extent of recovery (there is little difference for population E). Bootstrap confidence intervals also generally show an increase (though only slight) compared to the Base Case; the reason the JARPA estimates have this relatively small impact on the model results is their greater variability, which leads to less weight placed upon them in the fitting procedure (note the JARPAσ is typically 3-6 times larger than the Bσ for the abundance estimates from the feeding ground surveys).'

So, Butterworth and Johnston are not happy with the variability of JARPA figures and although those figures have a relatively small impact, because the math model used has allowed for their variability, if they are inaccurate the stock abundence is -

'notable less, as is the extent of recovery.'
Settle down - I'm simply saying that growth of 10% with 10 animals being taken is likely to still be a better result than say only 9% growth but with no removals.

If you want to argue the point, let's forget 9% and call it only 5% growth (i.e., only 350 new whales).

Surely you can see the point? I know that you are not stupid.

You are correct to observe that Butterworth and Johnston's research is under the assumption of a zero harvest, but you are dishonest to imply that any level of hunting would therefore result in significantly different outcome without any analysis as proof.

The JARPA II proposal in fact did just such an analysis of the impact of JARPA II removals and concluded that this would result in only a slight delay in the recovery of the stocks compared with than than the Johnston / Butterworth forecast.

This is not surprisingly also what common sense tells us, giving the statistics. I'd pull out the research to show you, but I know you'll ignore it anyway.

I also notice (with glee) that you are now taking Butterworth / Johnston's research seriously, after you previously made up a load of nonsense to support your desire to dismiss their research. Remarkable that you even bother to read it at all since it's posted at the ICR's homepage with various other scientific papers. They seem to be getting a lot of respect from you, inspite of your reluctance to accept that the JARPA programmes are not commercial whaling.

Alas, I do observe that you have indulged yourself in some selective quoting (although you forgot to snip some good bits).

All good entertainment value though :)
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