Subject: Re: japanesse whaling

Phil Clapham (
Fri, 08 Jan 1999 09:04:53 -0500

Hi Kate:

Here's the essentials of the answer: Japan conducts whaling under
"scientific permit".  This exploits a loophole in the International
Convention for the Regulation of Whaling which allowed countries to
issue themselves a permit to kill whales for scientific research
purposes.  The idea behind this when it was formulated in the 1940's was
to allow a kill of whales to gather scientific information that might be
useful for management (e.g. life history data etc).  Back then it was
the only way scientists had of learning anything about whales.

The problem, of course, is that scientific whaling is open to abuse,
especially when there happens to be a moratorium on commercial whaling
(which there is).  Japan's tactics differ from those of Norway, which
exploited another provision of the Convention allowing member countries
who disagree with a decision to register an "objection" and set their
own quotas.  Norway is engaged in full-scale commerical whaling over the
many objections of other members of the International Whaling Commission
(set up by the Convention to regulate whaling).

Japan takes minke whales in the Antarctic.  The quota varies, but has
typically been on the order of a few hundred.  Most scientists think it
unlikely that the hunt, at its current level, has significant impact on
the minke whale population, which is conservatively estimated at around
750,000 animals in the Antarctic.  But others fear that the actions of
Japan and Norway establish a precedent which may escalate into more
significant whaling activities in the future.

Phil Clapham

Kate Murphy wrote:
> Mr. Chapman
>         I am wondering if you can give me any information on the extent and
> effects of Japan hunting minke whales.  I am a high school student and I'm
> doing a project on that topic.  I'll appreciate any information.  Thanks a
> lot!
>         Kate Mutphy


Phillip J. Clapham, Ph.D.
Northeast Fisheries Science Center
166 Water Street
Woods Hole, MA 02543

tel (508) 495-2316
fax (508) 495-2066