Minke whale count hits new low

 作者:管温     |      日期:2019-03-06 02:07:09
By Emma Young A new survey of minke whales in the Southern Ocean suggests there may be far fewer than currently accepted by the International Whaling Commission. Surveys conducted between 1986 and 1991 produced an estimate of 760,000. But new sightings suggest the figure could be as low as 268,000. This estimate was presented by the IWC’s scientific committee at the 53rd meeting of the commission in London. But Judy Zeh, chairman of the IWC scientific committee, told the meeting that even the new data is not reliable. “The recent surveys were conducted later in the year and there is some concern they might have missed the peak of minke abundance,” she said. Zeh added that it might be two years before a reliable estimate is available. Japan kills 400 minke whales from the Southern Ocean sanctuary for “scientific research” each year. It uses the abundance of the species to justify that catch. Japan’s IWC delegation told the meeting it estimates there to be over 1.3 million southern minke whales. Richard Page, whaling campaigner of Greenpeace UK, says: “There are inherent difficulties in calculating whales, and the different estimates go to show how difficult it is. “But we have no idea whether this new number is due to an actual decline or whether it’s because the whales weren’t counted properly in the first place. This is why we should take a precautionary approach in calculating stocks.” Japan has made it clear that it wants to resume commercial whaling in southern waters. Norwegian whalers currently hunt almost 500 minke whales in the north Atlantic. Norway registered its opposition to the international moratorium on commercial whale hunting when it was established in 1986, and is not considered to be bound by it. Norway’s continuation of this hunt was the reason why the UK rejected a request by Norwegian minke whale survey vessels to enter UK waters earlier this year, said Rob Bowman, the UK’s assistant commissioner to the IWC. He told the meeting: “We deeply regretted the necessity to deny access. But we did not consider the survey to be in the best interests of whale conservation. “We felt it would be used by Norway to perpetuate their self-awarded minke whale quota and we were concerned about its decision to export whale products to other countries.” The UK’s actions were criticised by Norway and Denmark. Judy Zeh, chairman of the IWC scientific committee, told the meeting: “Access to exclusive economic zone regions for sighting surveys is essential for the work of this commission and for marine research worldwide.” Bowman told New Scientist that while he was disappointed other nations did not speak up publicly to back the UK’s actions, the delegation felt compelled to take a stand. UK surveys of the minke whale population of the north east Atlantic are planned,