[MARMAM] New paper on Japanese whaling

Phillip Clapham - NOAA Federal phillip.clapham at noaa.gov
Wed Jul 15 18:22:13 PDT 2015

This was published online today - it's Open Access so a pdf reprint can be
downloaded for free directly from the website:


Ivashchenko, Y.V. and Clapham, P.J.  2015.  What’s the catch?  Validity of
whaling data for Japanese catches of sperm whales in the North Pacific.  *Royal
Society Open Science* DOI: 10.1098/rsos.150177.

ABSTRACT  The failure of international efforts to manage commercial whaling
was exemplified by revelations of large-scale illegal whale catches by the
USSR over a 30-year period following World War 2.  Falsifications of catch
data have also been reported for Japanese coastal whaling, but to date
there has been no investigation of the reliability of catch statistics for
Japanese pelagic (factory fleet) whaling operations.  Here, we use data of
known reliability from Soviet whaling industry reports to show that body
lengths reported to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) by Japanese
factory fleets for female sperm whales caught in the North Pacific are not
credible.  In 1968/69, Japanese whaling fleets in the North Pacific killed
1,568 females, of which 1,525 (97.3%) were reported as being at or above
the IWC’s minimum length of 11.6 m (legal-sized females, LSFs).  In
contrast, Soviet fleets operating during this period killed 12,578 females;
only 824 (6.6%) were LSFs.  Adjusting for effort, catches of LSFs were up
to 9.1 times higher for Japan compared to the USSR, and even higher for
very large females.  Dramatic differences in body length statistics were
evident when both nations operated in the same area.  Significantly, the
frequency of LSFs and very large females in the Japanese catch markedly
declined after the IWC’s International Observer Scheme in 1972 made illegal
whaling more difficult.  We conclude that the Japanese length data reflect
systematic falsification of catch statistics submitted to the IWC, with
serious implications for the reliability of data used in current population
assessments.  The apparent ease with which catch data were falsified in the
past underscores the necessity of transparent and independent inspection
procedures in any future commercial whaling.

Phillip J. Clapham, Ph.D.
Leader, Cetacean Assessment and Ecology Program
National Marine Mammal Laboratory
Alaska Fisheries Science Center
7600 Sand Point Way NE
Seattle, WA 98115, USA

tel 206 526 4037
fax 206 526 6615
email phillip.clapham at noaa.gov
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.uvic.ca/pipermail/marmam/attachments/20150715/f38efffd/attachment.html>

More information about the MARMAM mailing list