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A Baleen whale is processed for its meat. Hundreds of whales will suffer the same fate this year.
Photo: Iain Kerr

August 20, 2001
Donating Their Bodies to Science
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Log Transcript

The Odyssey crew has been at sea, where access to news from the outside world is expensive. All on board have been extremely anxious to hear word regarding the outcome of last month's International Whaling Commission(IWC) meeting in London, England. Today, we finally got word.

It would appear that Japan has once again succeeded in blocking the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary with the help of Norway (the world's second largest whaling nation), and Japan's Caribbean 'buddies' who are keen to continue receiving the Overseas Development Aid (ODA) Japan gives them, and who show their gratitude by rubber-stamping Japan's minority positions on whaling.

Once again, the will of the minority has silenced the voice of the majority, for the time being anyway. What this means in cold hard facts is that some 600 Minke whales, 50 Brydes whales and 10 Sperm whales will be losing their lives for "science" this upcoming whaling season, due to a loophole in IWC regulations that allows IWC member nations, without the approval of other IWC nations, to give their scientists permits to kill whales for "science." This does have a catch: before giving a permit to its scientists a country is required to allow the Scientific Committee of the IWC to review the permit application it has received from its scientists. They don't have to abide by the recommendations of the Scientific Committee or of the IWC, but they are required to submit their scientists' proposals for review. So each year Japan has done so, and year-after-year the Scientific Committee has politely said it had no need for the data Japan would provide from her research and has recommended to the Japanese government that no permit for Scientific Whaling be issued. And year-after-year the Japanese government has ignored these recommendations and gone right ahead and issued permits to its whale scientists anyway.

Common sense dictates that such a proposal should demonstrate that the only way the scientific data being sought can be collected is from a dead whale. Since that is not the case, the Japanese research can only go forward because Japan is able, legally, to ignore the scientific reviews her proposals receive. All in all, it is a scene out of the Theater of the Absurd-a transparent attempt to justify Japan's thinly disguised scheme to continue commercial whaling by calling it "Scientific Whaling." Nobody buys it. But Japan clearly doesn't care what the world thinks and goes right on killing whales.

At the Ocean Alliance we demonstrated twenty years ago that the genetic information needed to provide the answers the Scientific Committee of the IWC needs for its work on whale stocks, can be obtained by taking small tissue samples from live whales and carrying out the same genetic research on them that the Japanese say they need an entire dead whale to accomplish. For example in our current around-the-world trip-the Voyage of the Odyssey-we have taken tiny tissue samples from more than 400 sperm whales. All of these whales were left alive and healthy, right where we had encountered them. To gain the same data that we now have, the Japanese would have to kill 400 sperm whales, all of which would be shipped back to Japan as frozen meat and drums of liquid wax and sold to support their "Scientific Whaling".

Log by Genevieve Johnson & Roger Payne

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