Return-Path: <WHE_WILLIAM@flo.org> Received: from flo.org by VMSVAX.SIMMONS.EDU (MX V3.1C) with SMTP; Fri, 27 May 1994 07:41:05 EDT Date: Fri, 27 May 1994 7:44:56 -0400 (EDT) From: WHE_WILLIAM@flo.org To: email@example.com Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Minke whaling estimates??? From: SMTP%"MARMAM@UVVM.BITNET" 24-MAY-1994 21:19:36.32 To: WHE_WILLIAM CC: Subj: Possible Flaws in Norwegain Minke Whale Estimates Date: Wed, 25 May 1994 01:15:12 BST Reply-To: Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Discussion <MARMAM@UVVM.BITNET> Sender: Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Discussion <MARMAM@UVVM.BITNET> Comments: Warning -- original Sender: tag was rbaird@SOL.UVIC.CA From: Richard McLanaghan <email@example.com> Subject: Possible Flaws in Norwegain Minke Whale Estimates X-To: firstname.lastname@example.org To: Multiple recipients of list MARMAM <MARMAM@UVVM.BITNET> Release Immediate: May 23, 1994 NORWAY'S DOUBLE VISION PUTS WHALES AT RISK A series of oversights based on sloppy interpretation of data means that Norwegian statistics used to support its pro-whaling stance are seriously flawed, says the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) as the International Whaling Commission's annual meeting opens in Mexico this week. The IWC Scientific Committee Report, released today, reveals unresolved problems with the Norwegian estimate for the number of minke whales in the North East Atlantic. The number blunder means that the real best estimate may be as low as 53,000 whales and not 87,000 as repeatedly claimed by Norway. Norwegian and other scientists will meet in December to go over the calculations in detail. Meanwhile, there is no valid estimate of the number of whales in the North East Atlantic on which any calculations of catch quotas can be based. Norway has used the higher figure to claim that it justifies their killing 250 minke whales each year in the North East Atlantic under the proposed new rules of the IWC. If the lower estimate is correct, their catch quota would be less than one whale. The bungled calculation was made by Norwegian scientists and presented to the IWC in 1992 where it was reluctantly accepted as "the best estimate available" until the IWC's own scientists had a chance to review the data. "The Scientific Committee of the IWC was irresponsible in blindly accepting the Norwegian estimate rather than waiting to calculate the numbers themselves", said IFAW's scientific advisor Dr Sidney Holt who is attending the meetings. Now IWC scientist Dr Justin Cooke has examined the data and his paper to the Scientific Committee shows startling slip ups. He explains that the Norwegians simply miscounted the number of double sightings of the same whales in their analysis. "Dr Cooke's re-calculation, based on very careful scrutiny of the original raw data, leads to an estimate of the number of minke whales as about 53,000. And that would give a catch quota of less than one whale under the IWC's proposed new rules." added Dr Holt. "Dr Cooke's study has shown that the Norwegian scientists were, at best, careless. Now the Norwegian authorities have no agreed number on which to base their decision about whether to engage in "outlaw" whaling again this summer. They will probably try to bluff their way out of this mess, as they have done before." IFAW Animal Welfare Director Paul Seigel said: "This also means that the US Government, which has been trying with increasing desperation to find excuses for not imposing sanctions on outlaw Norway that US domestic law mandates, is facing a serious dilemma. "In any case Norway's unyielding pro-whaling policy is daily looking more threadbare than ever." Ends.... Further Information: IFAW PR (UK) (44) 0892 668724 or 0634 830888 Notes for Editors How Many Minke Whales in the Northeast Atlantic? Dr Justin Cooke has presented to the Scientific Committee a re-analysis of some of the Northeast Atlantic minke whale sightings data obtained by Norwegian scientists. If Cooke is right there are about 53,000 minke whales in the Northeast Atlantic, not 87,000 as claimed by Norwegian scientists. Calculation of a catch limit from each of these numbers leads to very different results; about 250 animals from the Norwegian estimate close to zero from Cooke's. Cooke has calculated a new value for g(0), a critical number used in the calculations which lead to population estimates. G(0) is a measure of the chance that a whale on the track of the survey vessel will be seen. It can range from zero to one. If all whales present are seen then g(0) = 1. If g(0) is 0.5 then the raw estimate is doubled. Cooke's best estimate is 0.59, compared with the earlier Norwegian estimate of 0.36. The difference between the estimates of g(0) arises mainly from differences in numbers of whales identified as duplicates [ie the same whale seen by different observers] in the data from experiments carried out especially to estimate g(0). Discrepancies arise from a combination of poor specification of criteria for such identifications, subjective judgements that cannot be reproduced, inadequate specification of their methods by Norwegian scientists. It seems that the Norwegian scientists were careless in their analyses of their own data in that they missed many duplicates. It also seems that the majority of the Scientific Committee acted irresponsibly in uncritically 'accepting' the Norwegian analyses in 1992, and in not attempting to verify them in 1993. While the RMP itself may be a finely tuned and exhaustively tested instrument, the casual approach that the Scientific Committee appears to have taken in advising how it might be implemented (should the Commission so decide) clearly leaves much to be desired.