IWC's Revised Management Procedure
Mon, 27 Oct 1994 18:38:04

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Subject: IWC's Revised Management Procedure
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/* ---------- "WHALE REVISED MANAGEMENT PROCEDURE" ---------- */
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From: Alan Macnow <amacnow>
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To: igc!amacnow
Subject: IWC Revised Management Plan
Status: R
                               QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:
          Q: What is the IWC's Revised Management Procedure (RMP)?
          A: The Revised Management Procedure (RMP) is a set of rules and
             methods for managing baleen whale populations on a species by
             species, area by area, and stock by stock basis.  It is
             designed to safeguard whale populations while providing for
             sustainable utilization of stocks that are determined to be at
             healthy population levels.  It took the IWC's Scientific Com-
             mittee six years to develop.
          Q: How does the RMP protect endangered or threatened whales?
          A: The RMP does not permit whaling for any species or stocks con-
             sidered to be threatened or endangered.  Moreover, it will not
             allow catches of species or stocks that fall below the protec-
             tion level, designated as 54 percent of the original popula-
             tion level.
          Q: What other safeguards are employed in the RMP?
          A: Population abundance data and population growth rates in
             allowable catch calculations are adjusted downward to reduce
             the probability of risk to a minimum.  The procedure is
             designed to maintain stocks at 72 percent of their original
             population size and rebuild stocks that fall below that level.
             The RMP also requires constant monitoring of the stocks
             through periodic sightings surveys.  Catch limits will be
             phased out if monitoring stops.
          Q: Is there a possibility that a catch limit may inadvertently be
             granted for a stock that is thought to be at a population
             level over 54 percent but is really under?
          A: It is highly unlikely.  Even if it were to happen, the IWC
             Scientific Committee concluded that the catch limit allowed in
             such a case would be so small as to have only a marginal
             effect on the stock's recovery rate.
          Q: What information is needed to calculate catch limits?
          A: The RMP was designed to calculate safe catch limits and
             safeguard whale populations with a minimum of data.  Initial
             annual catch limits will not exceed 0.5% of the population,
             well under annual stock replacement through reproduction.
             Using the assumption of a high probability of error, the RMP
             incorporated the most conservative population assessment meth-
             ods consistent with the science of population dynamics.
             Basically, the core procedure of the RMP needs: (1) an
             estimate of the abundance of a whale population from sightings
             surveys together with an estimate of the statistical
             uncertainty associated with it; (2) a series of data detailing
             past catches from the population; (3) a conservative estimate
             of the productivity (annual increase percentage) of the
             population; and (4) a series of assumptions and rules to
             safeguard against uncertainties in the data, population
             dynamics, stock identity, or ecological interaction.  This
             core procedure is often called the catch limit algorithm.
          Q: What safeguards protect against errors in the catch limit
             algorithm calculations?
          A: Both the data and assumptions are thoroughly tested against
             worst case scenarios with computer models which compare
             predicted data with actual data.  The ultimate safeguard, how-
             ever, is the fact that the catch limit algorithm provides for
             the continuous monitoring of the population to detect changes.
             Catch limits will be reduced if population declines are
             detected or phased out if monitoring stops.
          Q: What will prevent whaling countries from exceeding catch
             limits or taking protected species or stocks?
          A: The International Whaling Commission will require all whaling
             operations to be conducted under the scrutiny of trained
             international observers. The observers will inspect each whale
             caught, make sure that all catch and biological data are
             recorded properly, and report all violations.
          Q: Can the RMP safeguard against threats to whale populations
             from catastrophic events, such as an epidemic of disease or
             some ecological disaster affecting the whales' food supply?
          A: Of course.  The RMP is flexible and responsive to change or
             uncertainty.  Its mandatory monitoring of the whale popula-
             tions will detect changes and trigger reductions in catch
             limits, if needed.  More likely, disease or catastrophic
             events will be detected first by the whalers.  Also, catch
             limits can be reduced or suspended by the IWC at any time in
             the event of an emergency.
              FROM:  Alan Macnow
                  Consultant to Japan Whaling Association