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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



Whaling: Ian Campbell just doesn't get it

Ian Campbell is at it again. One really has to wonder if he isn't completely clueless about the whaling issue.

Yesterday when announcing a new marine mammal research centre aimed at "protecting and conserving" cetaceans, Campbell informed us that:
The centre’s work will be especially important as we continue our efforts to convince pro-whaling nations of the benefits of non-lethal scientific research on whales.
Non-lethal research already plays the main role in producing important information such as abundance estimates, required by the Revised Management Procedure for catch limits to be set. And the IWC Scientific Committee in 1997 agreed that the JARPA programme, including lethal research components had the potential to improve the RMP.

Pro-whaling nations thus support both lethal and non-lethal research. Anti-whaling nations support only non-lethal research, because they believe that whales should not be killed in the first instance. Campbell is quite misguided if he hopes that better knowledge through non-lethal research may lead to pro-whaling nations turning against whaling. What he actually needs to do to get a greater appreciation of his position is to either
Ian is kidding himself if he thinks science has anything to do with his opposition to whaling. Few others are fooled.

Some other information of interest:
"Non-lethal study techniques, the effect of noise on whales, improved methods to estimate population numbers and human interaction impacts are just some priorities for the new facility."
Improved methods of estimating abundance would certainly be welcome, but, playing for Ian's side for a second (he needs the help), does he really want that?

Currently one of the main excuses Campbell and his buddy Chris Carter from across the Tasman use at the IWC to argue against a resumption in commercial whaling is the level of uncertainty of abundance estimates. The more scientific certainty we have about abundance, the less conservative catch limits need to be to ensure that catch limits are sustainable. Better estimates with less certainty will likely result in higher catch limts - more whales dying. This isn't going to take us closer to Campbell's dreamworld of a world with no whaling.

On the other hand, it does work in favour of whale conservation, and for that we should welcome any future contribution from Australia towards better scientific knowledge.

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