[MARMAM] New publication: right whaling around New Zealand and east Australia

Emma Carroll ecar026 at aucklanduni.ac.nz
Thu Apr 3 00:01:41 PDT 2014

Dear All,
we are pleased to announce the publication of a new paper on right
whaling industry around New Zealand and Australia, published recently
in PLoS One:

Carroll EL, Jackson JA, Paton D, Smith TD (2014) Two Intense Decades
of 19th Century Whaling Precipitated Rapid Decline of Right Whales
around New Zealand and East Australia. PLoS ONE 9(4): e93789.

Right whales (Eubalaena spp.) were the focus of worldwide whaling
activities from the 16th to the 20th century. During the first part of
the 19th century, the southern right whale (E. australis) was heavily
exploited on whaling grounds around New Zealand (NZ) and east
Australia (EA). Here we build upon previous estimates of the total
catch of NZ and EA right whales by improving and combining estimates
from four different fisheries. Two fisheries have previously been
considered: shore-based whaling in bays and ship-based whaling
offshore. These were both improved by comparison with primary sources
and the American offshore whaling catch record was improved by using a
sample of logbooks to produce a more accurate catch record in terms of
location and species composition. Two fisheries had not been
previously integrated into the NZ and EA catch series: ship-based
whaling in bays and whaling in the 20th century. To investigate the
previously unaddressed problem of offshore whalers operating in bays,
we identified a subset of vessels likely to be operating in bays and
read available extant logbooks. This allowed us to estimate the total
likely catch from bay-whaling by offshore whalers from the number of
vessels seasons and whales killed per season: it ranged from 2,989 to
4,652 whales. The revised total estimate of 53,000 to 58,000 southern
right whales killed is a considerable increase on the previous
estimate of 26,000, partly because it applies fishery-specific
estimates of struck and loss rates. Over 80% of kills were taken
between 1830 and 1849, indicating a brief and intensive fishery that
resulted in the commercial extinction of southern right whales in NZ
and EA in just two decades. This conforms to the global trend of
increasingly intense and destructive southern right whale fisheries
over time.


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