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TROUBLED WATERS - Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society

TROUBLED WATERS - Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society

through neurotrauma

through neurotrauma induced by the blast-generated pressure waves of the explosion (Knudsen and Øen 2003). In order for a rapid death or rapid loss of consciousness to be achieved, however, the correct region of the body must be targeted and the grenade must detonate at the correct depth within the body 3 . Modern whaling activities Whaling activities undertaken by contracting governments of the IWC are subject to the constraints of the ICRW and its operating rules contained in the schedule to the treaty. However, takes (hunts or kills) of small cetaceans (small whales, dolphins and porpoises), that are considered by some contracting governments to be beyond the auspices of the IWC, do occur and remain largely unregulated. These include the annual take of pilot whales and other species in the Faroe Islands; the killing of whales caught in nets around Japan and Korea (chapter 6); the hunting of beluga and narwhal (and also occasionally orcas) in Greenland; the hunting of beluga, orca and various dolphin species in Russia; the takes of various dolphin species in Peru and, more recently, the killing of stranded whales in the Solomon Islands. Japan also hunts various other species, such as the Baird’s beaked whale and the Dall’s porpoise. These ‘small cetacean’ takes are not considered by Japan, and other contracting governments, to be within the competence of the ICRW (chapter 7) and consequently they do not provide data to the IWC on the methods used to kill these animals or on the times to death 4 . In addition, at least two countries that hunt whales are not parties to the IWC. Canadian Inuit hunt bowhead whales, and sperm whales are killed in Indonesia. Modern vessels and equipment have allowed longer trips to be made into more treacherous conditions in search of diminishing whale populations. Today, using satellite navigation systems and other modern communication technology, whalers can now position fix upon a whale, or notify another vessel in the vicinity of a whale heading in its direction. Multi-directional hydrophones can be used to locate a whale precisely, and changes in click frequency from a surfacing sperm whale can be used to tell whale watchers when, and roughly, where, these animals might appear. The same techniques can also be used to locate whales for slaughter. Developments in modern technology, which have provided more efficient means for finding and processing whales, have not been accompanied by equal leaps forward in the efficiency of the methods used to kill these animals. The Norwegians have led the development of killing technology in recent years. Although some improvement is apparent in the efficiency of Norwegian hunts, assessing the extent of these improvements will be problematic until the debate concerning criteria for accurately measuring death in cetaceans is concluded (chapter 11). The application of more advanced technology in the future, may be able to offer increases in the ‘efficiency’ of whaling operations. However, it appears unlikely that the range of welfare problems and the potential for animal suffering associated with whaling will be reduced significantly in the foreseeable future (see chapters 8 & 9). Chapter 12 describes welfare standards of whaling in comparison with international expectations for the killing of livestock species for commercial purposes. The main incentive for whaling today, as in the past, remains economic. The only exception being aboriginal subsistence communities for which a genuine need has been proven (chapter 6). Despite the international moratorium on whaling 5 , Norway conducts commercial whaling in the North Atlantic under a reservation to the moratorium. Other contracting governments wishing to conduct whaling are able to do so, by granting themselves exemption through self-certified ‘special permits’. A BACKGROUND TO WHALING 9

10 A REVIEW OF THE WELFARE IMPLICATIONS OF MODERN WHALING ACTIVITIES Japan currently whales in the Antarctic (within the Southern Ocean Sanctuary) and in the Eastern North Pacific under special permit and in August 2003, Iceland initiated it’s own special permit whaling programme (see chapters 6 & 13). In recent years, campaigns against whaling have often been labelled by pro-whaling factions as emotional or unrealistic. There is a common belief amongst this group, that those campaigning against whaling do so because of a belief in a unique and intrinsic value to whale species. These arguments however have been used as a distraction for preventing the whaling industry from being called to account for its often appalling welfare record (chapter 6). Whaling nations have sometimes claimed that they are treated unfairly because people appear to value whales more highly than, for example, farm animals. This ‘value’ debate is not fundamental to the requirement of whales to be treated humanely since, at present their slaughter does not approach the basic standards required for slaughter of terrestrial livestock species killed for food (chapter 12). The IWC currently assesses the humaneness of a whale kill only in terms of the time it takes to kill the animal, the ‘time to death’ or TTD. This time is measured from the application of the primary killing method, until the time when the whale is judged to be dead, according to the IWC criteria for death. There is currently much controversy over the accuracy of the IWC criteria for determining death 6 (Butterworth et al. 2003) and there is considerable doubt remaining regarding the accuracy of any data on TTD or instantaneous death rates (IDR) presented to the IWC (chapter 11). The approach of measuring only the time it takes to kill each whale, does not provide any means of evaluating the kill in a more qualitative manner. For example, by relating each kill to the extent of the injury caused and thus for each animal attempting to determine the cause of death. Japan and Norway both collect post mortem data on at least some of the whales killed during whaling operations. However, there is no binding obligation to provide these more detailed data and consequently they are not regularly made available for wider review. Kirkwood et al. (1994) note that in assessing the welfare of free-living wild animals, a number of factors should be taken into consideration, including: the nature of the harm caused, its duration, the number of animals affected and their capacity for suffering. The current evaluation of the welfare of whales killed during whaling operations offered by the IWC is TTD. However, TTD does not encompass either the nature of the harm caused or have any mechanism for determining the capacity for suffering in the species taken. Pain and suffering The concept of welfare is based principally on the notion of pain and suffering. Pain is associated with physical stimulation and suffering is associated with both the physical and psychological well being of the individual. In many countries legislation protects animals from pain and undue suffering, particularly at the time of slaughter (chapter 12). The ‘experience’ of pain to an individual animal can only be truly determined by rigorous scientific investigation. Welfare assessments are common practice for animals that are killed for food or research purposes. ‘Special permit’ whaling purports to fall into the latter category, but also falls under the category of animals killed for food, since the meat of these animals is usually sold commercially. Therefore, it is judicious that similar welfare assessments should be conducted for, and rigorous standards applied to, the three main

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