Friday, March 4, 2011

The Legality of Whaling, Part II: Research

When you get down to it, the idea that "Research is Illegal" is based on
1. Opinion and bias. People want to believe it is illegal, so they assume there is no research.
However, documentation with the International Whaling Commission's (IWC) Scientific Committee puts that to rest.

IWC's Scientific Committee has reviewed both of ICR's research programs, JARPA and JARPN, several times. Never has the scientific validity of their research been brought into question by this group of scientists from around the world.
IWC Scientific Committee Review of JARPA 1997
IWC Scientific Committee Review of JARPA 2006
IWC Scientific Committee Review of JARPN 2007

IWC Scientific Committee Review of JARPN 2009

Much ado has been made about big-name scientists claiming that Japan is not doing research.
However, most of these scientists are outside of their fields and when confronted with their many misconceptions were soundly put in their place. Thankfully, the full exchange has been preserved by the University of Alberta.

Finally, there is the occasional deliberate misinformation that is put out by Marine Biologists. A prime example is Dr. Gales' allegation that ICR is engaging in "bizarre", "esoteric" research aimed at cross-breeding whales.
Dr. Gales greatly hurts his own reputation. Either he has a very poor understanding of science and is incompetent, or he is displaying that he has no sense of objectivity or professionalism. No matter how you slice it, it's a very dirty and dishonest thing to do.
The research Dr. Gale was referring to has nothing to do with cross-breeding animals. Female eggs from cows are known to be capable of adapting to host other species' dna, which could be used for a wide range of applications. Anything from cloning, to curing diseases by replicating tissue, to artificial insemination.

If perfected, such a technology would have broad applications, from the development of customized tissue cell lines for transplants in humans to new ways to propagate valuable farm animals, or rare and endangered species.
Dr. Gales seems to think this research is only strange when done by Japanese. That is very telling.
With these sorts of deceptive, deceitful, and cunning tactics used by the likes of Australian Propagandists abusing their qualifications, it is no wonder such a misconception about Japan's Legitimate Research Whaling exists.

2. Refusal to accept Article VIII of ICRW, which is the international agreement that forms the basis of IWC. To join IWC, every country must sign and agree to ICRW -- which sets the rules, procedures, funding, purpose, etc. of how IWC works.
Article VIII is very specific when it comes to research whaling and requiring the member nation to not waste the whale. One can immediately see Japan is acting legally.

Article VIII
  1. Notwithstanding anything contained in this Convention any Contracting Government may grant to any of its nationals a special permit authorizing that national to kill, take and treat whales for purposes of scientific research subject to such restrictions as to number and subject to such other conditions as the Contracting Government thinks fit, and the killing, taking, and treating of whales in accordance with the provisions of this Article shall be exempt from the operation of this Convention. Each Contracting Government shall report at once to the Commission all such authorizations which it has granted. Each Contracting Government may at any time revoke any such special permit which it has granted.
  2. Any whales taken under these special permits shall so far as practicable be processed and the proceeds shall be dealt with in accordance with directions issued by the Government by which the permit was granted.
  3. Each Contracting Government shall transmit to such body as may be designated by the Commission, in so far as practicable, and at intervals of not more than one year, scientific information available to that Government with respect to whales and whaling, including the results of research conducted pursuant to paragraph 1 of this Article and to Article IV.
  4. Recognizing that continuous collection and analysis of biological data in connection with the operations of factory ships and land stations are indispensable to sound and constructive management of the whale fisheries, the Contracting Governments will take all practicable measures to obtain such data.

This is not a loophole anymore than the establishment of a Legislature is a loophole in the US Constitution. This Article is an original part of the founding document for IWC and Japan has implemented it as intended.

The real issue is that anti-whalers don't want Japan, or anyone else, to do research. The excuse for passing the 10-year temporary moratorium was that there was not enough research on abundance estimates for all whales. Japan has undertaken to do research that will more than satisfy any doubts.
According to the Revised Management Plan (RMP), which was devised by the Scientific Committee after the moratorium was passed, all data must be updated within 5 years.

It has strict minimum data requirements and takes scientific uncertainty into account. Regular (5-6 years) abundance estimates are required.
- Dr. Greg Donovan, head of IWC's Scientific Committee

3. Claims that ICR's goals do not require lethal research. Often times people, and a few scientists who've never put their reputation on the line to prove it, have claimed that ICR could get the same data by collecting whale farts, measuring size, etc.
However, these all have major logistical issues which have never been attempted. And even if they were, would still represent a dropoff in the quality of data. Scientists can definitively determine a whale's age by counting the layers of wax in their ears like the rings on a tree. The proposed alternative, going by the whale's size, can barely be called a scientific guess.
Ergo, the logistical issues would equate to less quantity of data, and the methodology itself to a dropoff in the quality of data. No self-respecting scientist would sacrifice qualitative and quantitative results just because a few people have culture-based emotional issues.
Australia has been the only country to even propose attempting these non-lethal substitutes to research whales. Going by their original statements, they believed it would prove lethal research to be unneeded. However, it has proved the exact opposite. They failed to get any whale farts, and even the satellite trackers replicated some of the same difficulties ICR had years previously in attempts to use satellite tagging.
Australia's research program failed to replicate a single piece of data from ICR's Lethal Research.
Not only that, they failed to match the quantity or quality of data from ICR's extensive Non-Lethal Research. And this was with the Australian research missions costing almost twice as much as JARPA.

Comparison of Australia's research (AWE) to JARPA 04/05 (chosen because it researched the same sector) and JARPA 09/10 (chosen as most recent expedition with cruise report)
In both cases, JARPA produced far more results than AWE.

*This comparison does not include any lethal research*

  • Government expenses:
    • AWE : $6.09m
    • 04/05 JARPA: $5.37m ($3.60m if don't count the travel time between Japan... which Australia obviously doesn't have to deal with)
    • 09/10 JARPA: No Data
  • Biopsies
    • AWE : 64 humpbacks, 1 fin (including duplicates because they doubled back and tagged the same humpbacks twice -- they also concentrated all around Balleny islands, making it not representative of the entire sector)
    • 2004/05 JARPA: 38 humps, 2 fins, 1 right
    • 2009/10 JARPA: 84 humps, 1 fin, 1 right
  • - Sighting Survey
    • AWE: Did not follow track lines and doubled back rendering the results useless, nonetheless still covered just 5,800nm (including doubling back)
    • JARPA 04/05: Covered 18,712 nautical miles using the same procedure suggested by IWC for SOWER
    • JARPA 09/10: Same procedure; covered 8,232nm. Areas V West and Area III East were not possible due to interference.
  • Sighting counts:
    • AWE: 222 minkes in 128 schools, 276 humps in 129 schools, 59 fins in 29 schools, 5 sperm in 5 schools, 1 bottlenose in 1 school, 8 sei in 6 schools, 1 orca, 16 hourglass dolphins in 3 schools, 4 unidentified beaked whales (note that the abnormal #s of minkes and humps is attributed to doubling back and focusing on the Balleny islands)
    • JARPA 04/05: 4400 minkes in 1711 schools, 381 humps in 224 schools, 118 sperm in 115 schools, 126 fins in 53 schools, 83 bottlenose in 47 schools
    • JARPA 09/10: 2242 minkes in 986 schools, 40 blues in 24 schools, 189 fins in 56 schools, 2 Seis in 1 school, 88 "like" minke in 46 schools, 1187 humps in 603 schools, 2 rights in 2 schools, 189 unidentified baleen in 87 schools, 130 sperm in 127 schools, 48 bottlenose in 30 schools
  • Photo ID:
    • AWE: 61 humps
    • JARPA 04/05: 62 humps, 3 right, 5 blue
    • JARPA 09/10: 110 humps, 2 rights, 8 blue
  • Oceanographic survey
    • AWE: 10x CTD
    • 04/05 JARPA: 12x XBT, 62x CTD, 100x XCTD,
    • 09/10 JARPA: 57x TDR [continuous]
  • EPCS survey
    • AWE: None
    • 04/05 JARPA: 2 EPCS surveys of 90 days and 93 days covering 11,488nm.
    • 09/10 JARPA: None
  • Hydro-acoustic survey:
    • AWE: Yes, 111 sonobuoys for 100 nm -- results inconclusive yet but ICR is apparently interested in this as a similar goal in 04/05 didn't yield much to aid sighting surveys
    • 04/05 JARPA: Yes, EK500 for 11488.2 nm
    • 09/10 JARPA: None
  • Marine debris survey:
    • AWE: None
    • 04/05 JARPA: used ARGO profiling floats that render high-quality upper and middle layer of the ocean simultaneously. In coordination with Japan Marine Science and Technology Center (JAMSTEC)
    • 09/10 JARPA: same as 04/05
  • Satellite tagging:
    • AWE: 30 humps, 9 were able to transmit, only one worked continuously (84 days) but never left the Southern Ocean
    • JARPA 04/05: None.
    • JARPA 09/10: None.
    • (** ICR has used trackers in the past in JARPN but -- like AWE here -- had difficulty keeping them up. Comments from ICR indicate that until a more reliable and less cost-prohibitive means is figured out they're laying off this area for now)
  • Recording of Humpback songs:
    • AWE: Of course
    • JARPA 04/05: None
    • JARPA 09/10: None

Again, this included no lethal research, because the Australian mission could not replicate a single piece of data which ICR got using lethal means.

It is very unpopular to discuss the extensive Non-Lethal Research ICR does as it undermines the "under guise of research" propaganda.

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