Sunday, 9 March 2008

Lost in translation or simply weird science? Japan's whale research carried this report on Japan's whale research yesterday .
"AN official scientific review of Japan's bizarre experiments with test-tube minke babies and attempts at cross-breeding cows with whales has exploded the claim whale slaughter is "research".
Scientists have analysed the 43 research papers produced by Japan after 18 years of killing whales and concluded they are useless, strange and esoteric."
While in 2005 the Cetacean Society International had this to say about Japan's low priority lethal research.
"What do non-Japanese scientists say about JARPA II? Dr. Phil Clapham, director of large whale research at the U.S. National Marine Mammal Lab in Seattle, Washington says: "Japan's scientific whaling program has been widely criticized as a cover for a growing commercial hunt." "The quality of the scientific research is extremely poor, providing almost no information of value for the management of whale populations despite 16 years of operation and thousands of whales killed. Japan's research exists for one purpose only: to `prove' - no matter what the data actually say - that whales eat too much fish and are thus in competition with Japanese fisheries. This isn't the case, and is not even relevant in the Antarctic, where whales eat krill."
Last year Science Direct carried this abstract concerning Japan's whaling policy.
"Morishita's "multiple analysis" of the whaling issue [Morishita J. Multiple analysis of the whaling issue: Understanding the dispute by a matrix. Marine Policy 2006;30:802–8] is essentially a restatement of the Government of Japan's whaling policy, which confuses the issue through selective use of data, unsubstantiated facts, and the vilification of opposing perspectives. Here, we deconstruct the major problems with Morishita's article and provide an alternative view of the whaling dispute. For many people in this debate, the issue is not that some whales are not abundant, but that the whaling industry cannot be trusted to regulate itself or to honestly assess the status of potentially exploitable populations. This suspicion has its origin in Japan's poor use of science, its often implausible stock assessments, its insistence that culling is an appropriate way to manage marine mammal populations, and its relatively recent falsification of whaling and fisheries catch data combined with a refusal to accept true transparency in catch and market monitoring. Japanese policy on whaling cannot be viewed in isolation, but is part of a larger framework involving a perceived right to secure unlimited access to global marine resources. Whaling is inextricably tied to the international fisheries agreements on which Japan is strongly dependent; thus, concessions made at the IWC would have potentially serious ramifications in other fora."
It appears that Japan will have difficulty in sustaining the fiction that its Antarctic whale hunt is 'science'.
Its official credibility may now hinge on how many nation members at this weekend's International Whaling Commission talks it can induce to overlook the flaws in its argument for lethal research.
The Solomon Islands has declined to attend the meeting this year.
"Usually Japan pays for our attendance," Prime Minister Derek Sikua said. But he said the Solomons had declined to attend a special closed meeting on the future of the IWC that wound up in London last night.
"This time we have refused their assistance, so we haven't gone because we can't afford it," Mr Sikua said. He was unable to say how much the support of the Solomons had cost the Japanese in previous years."
While not condoning the protest methods of the Sea Shepherd organisation, it is more than passing strange to see Japan's so-called annual scientific expedition defend itself with flash grenades.
Here's how the US media reported the incident.
"TOKYO -- The Japanese coast guard says the crew of a whale-processing ship clashed with anti-whaling activists from the Friday Harbor (Washington) based Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
It happened in the Antarctic Ocean, 1,800 miles south-southwest of Melbourne.
The captain of the anti-while ship, Paul Watson, says he was shot, but saved by a Kevlar vest.
Japan denies a shot was fired. The coast guard says the crew of the whaling ship, Nisshin Maru, threw stun grenades after the activists threw rotten butter, bottles and bags of white powder at the processing ship.
Watson says they were throwing stink bombs."

No comments: