many species of whales are there in the world?
are about 80 species of whales in the world.
Below are the population estimates of some whale species provided
by the IWC at present.
||North West Pacific and Okhotsk Sea
||North Atlantic (excluding Canadian East Coast)
||Bering-Chukchi- Beaufort Seas stock
||Eastern North Pacific
||Western North Atlantic
all whales endangered?
whales have ever been hunted to extinction, nor are they likely
to be. Out of all of the 80 species, only a limited number traditionally
have been hunted, such as blue whales, fin whales, minke whales,
humpback whales, sperm whales and gray whales.
When whales were over-hunted, species such as blue whales and
right whales were reduced to very low population levels, but
these species now have been fully protected for decades.
Japan strongly believes that they should continue to be protected.
On the other hand, there are species which are abundant enough
that marine management is needed, such as the Antarctic and
northwestern Pacific minke whales and northwestern Pacific Bryde's
||Aren't whales supposed to have a high level of intelligence?
who assert that the whale has a higher intelligence base their
assertion on the large size of a whale's brain. It is simply
natural for a whale which has large head to have a larger brain
than those of other animals, but that does not necessarily mean
that it has higher intelligence.
In comparing the size of animal brains, we should take into
consideration not only its weight but also its proportion to
the body weight. The proportion of a blue whale's brain to its
body weight is 0.007% on the average, as compared with 1.93%
for human beings.
The harbor porpoise has the highest proportion of 0.85% among
cetaceans. Does that mean that the intelligence of a harbor
porpoise is half the level of a human being and that of a blue
whale is one hundredth of a harbor porpoise's? It is not necessarily
so. It is not possible to determine the intelligence level with
the brain's proportion to the body weight.
The late Dr. E.J. Slijper, who was a world authority on cetaceans,
said "...it seems improbable that an animal which propels itself
mainly with its tail should need a more highly developed brain
than, for instance, a monkey which uses all its limbs so skillfully."
On a similar note, Dr. Margaret Klinowska, a professor of Cambridge
University and a member of the Specialist Group of the IUCN
Species Survival Commission, said that "In most species of cetaceans,
the brain is neither very large nor especially complex," adding
that "whales betray little evidence of behavioral complexity
beyond that of a herd of cows or deer."
whaling is allowed again, what's to guarantee that over-exploitation
won't occur again?
could not happen again because of the stronger regulations and
checks and balances that would accompany any reintroduction.
The International Whaling Commission
would control whaling if it were allowed again, just as it controls
the bans now.
Importantly the reason that many countries were involved in
whaling previously was for whale byproducts, such as oil and
bone, in contrast to countries and communities like Japan, Norway,
the native American Indians and many island nations that whaled
||Is whaling still occurring today, even though there is a global ban?
are three types of whaling being carried out:
Aboriginal subsistence whaling
The International Whaling Commission authorizes this whaling.
The IWC now authorizes catches under its aboriginal subsistence
whaling scheme for:
1.Bowhead whales in Alaska(US) and Chukotka(Russia).
2.Gray whales in Washington(US) and Chukotka(Russia).
3.Fin whales and Minke whales in Greenland (Denmark).
4.Humpback whales in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
However, Japan's tradition of whaling is not recognised by the
Small-type whaling outside of the IWC's jurisdiction
Catches of small cetaceans including Baird's beaked whales,
Pilot whales and Dall's porpoises occur within Japanese coastal
waters. These catches are outside the International Whaling
Commission's jurisdiction. The Government of Japan strictly
regulates these operations. Small cetaceans caught either in
directed fisheries or incidentally in other fisheries are used
for human consumption in many countries around the world.
Whaling by non-IWC member countries
Catches by non-IWC members include bowhead whales in Canada,
sperm whales in Indonesia. These countries are not bound by
the IWC regulations, as they are not members.
||The whaling debate has shifted from scientific discussion to arguments on animal rights as perceived by certain countries and groups. Since most Western nations are opposed to whaling, why doesn't Japan just abandon its tradition?
cannot agree with this view. Asking Japan to abandon this part
of its culture would compare to Australians being asked to stop
eating meat pies, Americans being asked to stop eating hamburgers
and the English being asked to go without fish and chips.
Attitudes toward animals are a part of national cultures. No
nations should try to impose their attitudes on others.
Anti-whaling countries regard whales as sacred, and want the
ban on whaling to continue on the grounds that a humane killing
method is not ensured or that whaling itself is unethical.
But it is questionable whether the whaling conducted by westerners
in the past was humane or ethical. To this argument, the westerners
might respond that was the very reason for them to have halted
But this argument is nothing but a misconception. Whaling in
western countries was conducted to collect whale oil, whether
it was ancient sailing-boat-type whaling or modern whaling.
It died out naturally as it lost its industrial importance after
petroleum became more readily available.
On the other hand, whaling in Japan was mainly carried out for
the production of meat, and because of strong demand for whalemeat
in the domestic market, whaling can still continue to be viable.
Not all western countries are anti-whaling although anti-whaling
attitudes are prevalent. Generally Anglo-Saxon countries take
an anti-whaling position, but Iceland, Norway and Denmark regard
whales as food.
||There have been media reports of whale meat on the market in Japan from endangered species. What is the situation?
from species of large whale other than minke whale in the market
could have originated from several sources including meat stored
frozen from before the moratorium on commercial whaling, by-products
from past scientific catches by Iceland and Norway, stranding,
Illegal catches or trade are unlikely sources since the Government
of Japan has strict regulations that prohibits whaling for species
regulated by the IWC in compliance with the moratorium on commercial
whaling and because the import of whale meat from non-IWC member
countries is prohibited by regulation.
DNA analyses of samples of whale products currently distributed
in the Japanese markets conducted by the Fisheries Agency of
Japan and Traffic-Japan have not substantiated any illegal catches
Media reports of illegal whale meat in Japanese markets have
come from DNA analyses conducted by scientists from New Zealand
and the U.S.A. Contrary to standard scientific practice, samples
used as the basis for their reports have not been provided for
There are other matters of scientific procedures that seriously
question the credibility of these reports. The IWC's Scientific
Committee has rejected consideration of some of these reports.
||Is the research being undertaken by Japan in the Southern Ocean an illegal activity not authorised by the International Whaling Commission?
Article VIII of the International Convention for the Regulation
of Whaling (ICRW), the Contracting Parties have an unrestricted
right to take whales for scientific research. Japan is a signatory
to this Convention.
When the commercial whaling moratorium was introduced in 1982,
the main reason the anti-whaling nations gave for its introduction
was the uncertainty surrounding the scientific data then available.
In other words, they argued that safe management of whales was
not possible because knowledge of the number of whales, age
composition, sex ratio, and natural mortality rate was ambiguous.
The research catch by Japan was launched to answer such questions
and resolve the uncertainties.
Many members of the IWC Scientific Committee recognize the importance
of the research, and value highly their results. However, during
the past several years, the IWC anti-whaling majority has repeatedly
passed resolutions calling on Japan to reconsider the current
research catch and insisting that research should be limited
to non-lethal methods.
Anti-whaling proponents have tried to label the research catch
as commercial whaling in disguise, but this is a tactic to discredit
the research effort.
In the research program, the vessels are run on a predesigned
track formulated by scientists, and conduct surveys and collects
specimens such as earplug and ovaries. After scientific examination
and removal of tissue and organ samples, the remains of the
whales are frozen and marketed in compliance with the provisions
of the Convention, which forbid any part of the carcass to be
wasted. However, as the cost of research is expensive, the proceeds
from sales of whale meat and parts alone cannot cover the costs.
The Government of Japan pays the remainder of the costs.
The research is carried out by the Institute of Cetacean Research
(ICR), a semi-governmental organization of the Japan Fisheries
Agency, established in 1987.
||How often is research conducted?
currently conducts the whale sampling research in the Antarctic
and the northwest Pacific.
There is need to carry out the research every year as the number
of samples collected and the area surveyed by one cruise per
year is very limited, particularly given the size of the Antarctic
The data necessary for the management of the whale resources
must show changes in trends over time. Continuous sampling is
indispensable to enhance the accuracy of the research.
||What are the types of research into whales?
are two broad types of research which are conducted into whales.
Non-lethal and lethal.
There are advantages and disadvantages associated with both
lethal and non-lethal methods. For example, non-lethal methods
are inadequate for population research of whales, as well as
other marine life, but is suitable for examining whale behaviour
in slow-swimming species.
A large range of information is needed for the management and
conservation of whales, such as population, age structure, growth
rates, age of maturity, reproductive rates, feeding, nutrition
and levels of contaminants. This type of important information
cannot be obtained through small DNA samples or analysis of
organochlorine, but only through lethal research.
The Japanese whale research program has obtained valuable information
on whales by using non-lethal and lethal research.It has also
enabled us to calculate the amount of fish consumed by whales
- which is approximately between 280 million tonnes and 500
million tonnes per year. In contrast, humans harvest around
90 million tonnes of fish each year.
||Benefits from Japan's research program have not been promoted so it must be just a cover for whaling.
is not true. There have been dozens of scientific reports and
information made available to the public in brochures on the
findings of the Japanese research program.
The difficulty faced by the Japanese researchers is the interest
of western media, who have failed to run stories in newspapers
etc about the results. The results are available on the The
Institute of Cetacean Research Website: http://www.icrwhale.org/eng-index.htm
||Why does Japan conduct whale research in the Southern Ocean when it is an international whale sanctuary?
is important to understand that the Southern Ocean Sanctuary
applies only to commercial whaling. It does not apply to research.
Japan's research catch of whales in the Antarctic is perfectly
legal under Article VIII of the Convention which provides that
any contracting Government may issue a special permit authorising
the take of whales for scientific purposes.
The proposal to establish a Southern Ocean whale sanctuary,
which abruptly came up at the 1992 IWC meeting, was a political
push by anti-whaling nations to put an end to whaling regardless
of reason. It was also an attempt to drive a wedge between Japan,
which wishes to establish a system of conservation and sustainable
use of marine resources in all areas, and such countries as
Norway and Iceland that seek to resume whaling in their national
The anti- whaling forces sought to impose a total ban on whaling
in the Antarctic regardless of the fact that the IWC has the
ability to safely manage the sustainable use of the areas abundant
whales including a population of over 760,000 fast-reproducing
minke whales. The proposal was adopted in 1994, without regard
to scientific evidence that argued against the need for a sanctuary.
The scientific evidence researched by the IWC's Scientific Committee
demonstrated up to 2,000 minke whales could be taken each year
without any impact on their population. This is the basis on
which Japan is making its request for establishment of a commercial
whaling quota. Of even more concern is that the creation of
the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary is the imbalance this is
causing to the ecosystem.
It is common sense in wildlife resource management that excessive
protection of only one part of an ecosystem, especially the
component at the top of the food chain, except when it is at
a very low stock level, will impair the balance of the ecosystem
as a whole and will invite instability of the resources in question.
||Why was the International Whaling Commission established?
International Whaling Commission was established by the 1946
International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling. The
IWC's objective is: "to provide for the proper conservation
of whale stocks and thus make possible the orderly development
of the whaling industry." However, the IWC is now ignoring an
important element of its objective - the orderly development
of the industry.
The IWC is now controlled by a majority anti-whaling group backed
up by anti-whaling non-governmental organizations, which has
lead to various stringent regulations against whaling, one after
another, which caused the IWC to deviate from its original objectives.
The most conspicuous example of the violation of the Convention
was the adoption of a commercial whaling moratorium in 1982.
The Convention requires that all conservation measures shall
be based on scientific findings, and the IWC Scientific Committee
has never recommended a moratorium in the past.
The moratorium was achieved by anti-whaling groups like Greenpeace
recruiting into the IWC many countries that had nothing to do
with whaling, thus giving the anti-whaling forces the majority
The blatant disregard of the objectives and provisions of the
1946 Convention is not only in violation of the Convention but
also violates the Vienna Convention on interpretation of Treaties,
which requires "good faith" implementation of international
||How many countries are members of the International Whaling Commission?
IWC was established in 1948 under the ICRW concluded in 1946.
Initially it started with 15 whaling nations but began to give
a stronger emphasis to conservation of whales since the 1960s
when the Netherlands and the United Kingdom stopped whaling
after their whaling industry was no longer profitable because
of over-exploitation of whales.
From the latter half of the 1970s, new members seeking solely
to ban whaling joined the commission, resulting in the passage
of a commercial whaling moratorium in 1982 by their majority
The present IWC membership is 88 nations. Among them, the number of countries
supporting whaling tends to increase in these days.
Anglo-Saxon countries, like the United Kingdom, New Zealand,
Australia and the United States have a hard-line policy against