Perspective from Japan on whaling and whale meat, a spot of gourmet news, and monthly updates of whale meat stockpile statistics
IWC 2006 has begun, with almost 200 scientists meeting in the Caribbean
, prior to the IWC meeting itself later next month.
Alas, we can expect to see some publicity stunts shortly. Last year 63 scientists, all just happening to be delegated from either hardcore anti-whaling nations or associated with anti-whaling NGOs, refused to review the JARPA II research proposal, in defiance of the IWC's rules.
At their current meeting, the SC is scheduled to review the original JARPA programme. While the programme was evaluated highly at it's halfway point in 1997
, recent events such as last year's stunt indicate that politics has infiltrated proceedings at the SC meetings, so the review is likely to note heavy criticism from scientists of New Zealand, Australia, the UK, other anti-whaling European nations, and scientists associated with anti-whaling NGO groups such as IFAW.
Additionally, the SC is due to provide a new current estimate for the Southern ocean minke population, and perhaps complete an estimate for some of the Southern ocean humpback populations. These discussion on the minke estimate is likely to be laboured, however.
The estimate for 1990 was 760,000, while recent data from sightings surveys has indicated current numbers are maybe only half of that. The JARPA programme has only removed several thousand; biologically such a huge decrease is hard to explain, and I've read that JARPA data also does not indicate signficant changes in biological parameters of the minke population to support such an argument. It will be interesting to see what the new estimate does turn out to be, but more so, what the reasons the IWC SC sees for the likely large difference between the new and 1990 estimate.
All this information is supposed to be kept secret until the start of the full IWC meeting, I believe, but the anti-whaling NGOs will likely leak some information beforehand, selectively quoting IWC SC scientists who support their views. As with every year, it will be prudent to wait for the actual report of the SC, rather than leaks from groups with agendas to sympathetic western media outlets.