Subject: Case Study: WHALING RESUMPTION NOT THREAT (fwd)

Michael Williamson (pita@whale.simmons.edu)
Thu, 13 Jun 1996 09:27:04 -0400 (EDT)

Date: Wed, 12 Jun 1996 14:54:00 -0700
Who is Alan Macnow <amacnow@igc.apc.org?
What is his view on whaling?
What more should you know?
Is this a scientifically vaild view point?
What is your view point? Why? On what do you base your view?



                                        FROM: Alan Macnow
                                              Tele-Press Associates,Inc.
                                              321 E. 53 Street
                                              New York, N.Y., 10022
                                               TEL: (212) 688-5580
                                               FAX: (212) 688-5857
                                            email: amacnow@igc.apc.org

                                          FOR: Japan Whaling Association

        FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


                 RESUMPTION OF WHALING UNLIKELY TO POSE THREAT

                In 1961, there was good reason to be alarmed at the
        plight of the whales.  The great blue whale, the world's largest
        mammal, appeared to be hunted to the verge of extinction, like
        the right, gray and bowhead whales before it.  An outpouring of
        public concern became the basis of the environmental movement,
        prompting a flood of contributions and pressure to save the
        whales.
                Today, thirty-five years later, the call to save the
        whales still echoes.  But a reality check would leave most
        thoughtful people wondering why the concern persists.
                Consider:
                No one has hunted the great blue whale since the Inter-
        national Whaling Commission (IWC) banned its catch thirty years
        ago.  Commercial catches of right, gray and bowhead whales were
        banned sixty five years ago.
                Commercial catches of humpback whales were stopped thir-
        ty years ago.
                Commercial catches of Pacific fin whales were prohibited
        in 1976, pelagic stocks of sperm whales in 1979 and coastal
        sperm whale stocks in 1986;
                All other commercial whale catches, even those from non-
        endangered stocks such as the abundant minke whales, ceased in
        the 1987-1988 season.
                Since 1972, the commercial catch of whales was reduced
        from 32,000 per year to the 215 taken last year from a non-
        endangered Atlantic minke stock by Norway.
                That is not to say that depleted whales are no longer
        hunted.  But the numbers taken are too small to impair the
        stocks' recovery.  Traditional native whalers take almost 400
        whales each year for subsistence, with American Inuits allowed
        67 bowheads, Greenlanders 19 fin whales and 167 minkes, Russians
        140 gray whales and St. Vincent and the Grenadines 2 humpback
        whales.  This year the U.S. will ask the IWC for 5 gray whales
        for the Makah tribe of Washington State.
                Under the provisions of the IWC's Convention, member na-
        tions also can take whales for research purposes.  Japan is con-
        ducting a 16-year research study of minke whales.  The research
        requires the catch of 400 minke whales from a 760,000 minke pop-
        ulation in Antarctic waters and 100 minkes from a 25,000 non-
        endangered population off its Pacific coast.  The catches con-
        stitute less than one half of one percent of the populations.
                Almost all of the whale species appear to be increasing
        steadily in all of the world's waters.  There are sightings of
        increased numbers of blue whales off the California coast and
        the Gulf of St. Lawrence.  Australia noted a 12% increase in the
        number of humpback whales off its coasts.  The rare north Atlan-
        tic right whale rebounded from only 30 whales off the coast of
        the U.S. in the 1950's to 500 today.  And the Pacific gray
        whale, once thought extinct, has recovered to original popula-
        tion size. It was recently removed from the U.S. endangered
        species list.
                Only the great blue whale of the Antarctic appears to be
        lagging in its recovery.  A number of scientists attribute this
        to substantial increases in species competing for the same food
        supply, such as minke whales and crabeater seals.  The culling
        back of some minkes and seals may help the blue whale recovery.
                Blue whales and other depleted whale species will not be
        targeted even if commercial whaling is allowed to resume.
        Strict application of a well-tested procedure to calculate catch
        quotas does not permit the taking of any stocks which are at 54%
        or less of their original population sizes.  Only one half of
        one percent of the more abundant populations will be permitted
        to be taken, a number well below the annual rate of population
        increase for whales, which ranges from 4% to 14%.
                It is unlikely, too, that whales will ever be hunted as
        relentlessly as they were in previous times.  Since the mid
        1960's, the whole character of whaling has changed.  Nations no
        longer need whale oil, the resource that led to earlier over-
        exploitation.  Now, whales are taken solely for food, by coun-
        tries that traditionally consumed it in their food cultures.
                                     -end-