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TROUBLED WATERS - Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society

TROUBLED WATERS - Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society

Table 1 Commercial,

Table 1 Commercial, special permit and net whaling 1998-2002 8Contracting Season Type of Species Number IDR Average Max NumberGovernment Whaling killed (%) TTD TTD Struck(seconds) (minutes) & LostNORWAY 1998 Under minke 625 63 198 68 11 91999 objection minke 591 62 241 86 14 02000 to the minke 487 10 78.2 136 59 6 02001 moratorium minke 552 79.7 145 90 10 02002 minke 634 80.7 141 90 1 0JAPAN* 1998/99 JARPA minke 389 31.6 285‘99/2000 Special minke 439 44.4 1732000/01 Permit minke 440 36.1 2052001/02 minke 440 33.0 2032002/03 minke 440 40.2 157JAPAN† 1998 ‘Net minke 241999 Whaling’ 11 minke 192000 minke 282001 minke 792002 minke 109NO DATAPROVIDEDDATANOT AVAILABLECOMMERCIAL AND ABORIGINAL SUBSISTENCE WHALING*Note Japan does not supply any comprehensive data on minke, sperm, Bryde’s and sei whaleskilled during the JARPN hunt.†Figures obtained from National Progress Reports submitted annually by Japan to the IWC.39The welfare implications of each whaling technique will be considered in this chapter. Table 1 showsthe number and species of whales killed over the last five years by Japan and Norway, the average andmaximum time they took to die (time to death, TTD), the instantaneous death rate (IDR) and theproportion of animals shot but lost (the ‘struck and lost’ rate, SLR).Killing methods used during commercial and special permit whalingWith the exception of bycaught whales (discussed later in this chapter), the methods used by Japan,Iceland and Norway for killing whales are very similar. In each case, whalers use a penthrite grenadeharpoon, which is fired from a cannon mounted on the prow of a ship, as the primary killingmethod. The harpoon is intended to penetrate to about a foot (approx 30cm) into the whale andthen detonate, creating sufficient energy to kill the whale either by the trauma or laceration, or bythe generation of shock waves, causing trauma to the brain. Upon impact, spring-loaded claws arereleased by the harpoon and embed in the surrounding flesh when the line comes under tension. Ifthe whalers determine that the first harpoon has not killed the whale, either a second penthriteharpoon is deployed or a rifle (of minimum calibre 9.3mm) is used as a ‘secondary killing method’ inboth the Norwegian and Japanese hunts. Until recently, Japan used electricity as a secondary killingmethod.

Norway manufactures a penthrite grenade harpoon known as ‘Whalegrenade-99’, which it uses in itsdomestic hunts and sells to Iceland, Japan and Greenland. Japan also uses a slightly modified versionof this grenade with a longer trigger cord that delays the explosion until the harpoon is embeddeddeeper in the animal (Ishikawa 2002). Japan’s Institute of Cetacean Research (which oversees Japan’swhaling operations and scientific research, and also markets the meat), is conducting comparativetests between the Norwegian grenade and Japan’s own modified version. It is expected, however, thatfinancial rather than humane considerations will determine the government of Japan’s ultimate choiceof whale killing technology. Despite evidence presented by Japan to the 2003 IWC meetingdemonstrating that the instantaneous death rate for minke whales killed using the Norwegiangrenade was greater than for those killed using the Japanese grenade, Japan conceded that “Financialconcerns may be the most important factor related to the decision whether or not to introduce them [theNorwegian grenade] to Japan” (Ishikawa and Mogoe 2003, Ishikawa 2003).40A REVIEW OF THE WELFARE IMPLICATIONS OF MODERN WHALING ACTIVITIESReporting dataThe schedule to the ICRW includes a reporting form 12 for the collection of data from all factoryships and catcher ships 13 . The data collected are considered annually by the Commission’s standingWorking Group on Whaling Killing Methods and Associated Welfare Issues, and in greater detailevery 3-5 years by its expert Workshop on Whale Killing Methods and Associated Welfare Issues. Thelast workshop met in June 2003 just before the 55th Annual Meeting of the IWC. Norway providesdata on whale killing as required under the schedule. However, Japan continues to withhold much ofthe data it collects from its whaling operations 14 . For example in 2003, Japan only presented data(which was itself incomplete) on two of the four species that it hunts in the North Pacific ‘JARPN’hunt. It also provided some details, for the first time since the hunt began in 2000, of the harpoon ituses to kill sperm whales, but offered no TTD or IDR data. Nor did it volunteer any substantivereasons for its choice, for sperm whales, of a 75mm harpoon and a penthrite charge 1.7 times greaterthan is used on minke whales (30g) (Anon 2003c).Evaluation of methods used during commercial whalingDespite the similarity of methods used by Norway and Japan for killing whales, there are markeddifferences in killing efficiency as illustrated by the IDR and the average TTD in each hunt (Table1). There may be several operational reasons for this difference. Japan often points to the weather(chapter 8) and the accuracy of new gunners as a causative factor for this difference. Japanese whalersmay aim for the thorax in order to preserve the whales’ ear-plugs for their research. However, thechoice may also be influenced by the larger target offered by the thorax.Many countries have regulations requiring stunning immediately prior to slaughter of livestockanimals that are killed for food. The objective is to cause instantaneous insensibility to pain througha loss of consciousness which lasts until death (Gregory and Lowe 1999) (see chapter 12). In orderfor this to be achieved in whales, energy must be supplied to nervous tissue to bring about a stunnedstate. This can be achieved either via a percussive energy wave, through blast energy inducedneurotrauma, or by electrical energy delivered directly, or close to, the brain.Whaling techniques compare unfavourably to terrestrial slaughterhouse killing methods in achievinginstantaneous insensibility or death. In 2002, 80.7 per cent of whales were instantaneously killed orrendered insensible in Norway’s hunts and only 40.2 per cent in Japan’s Antarctic hunt (the rates forother, larger, species taken by Japan during the JARPN hunts are unlikely to be ‘better’).

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