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IFAW Briefing Note on Implications of Proposals in IWC 62 7

IFAW Briefing Note on Implications of Proposals in IWC 62 7

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This briefing addresses issues where the text of the IWC proposal has changed since IWCM10-SWG4. Other concerns that remain include the suspension of the moratorium and Southern Ocean Sanctuary. In addition, the provisions for DNA registers and market surveys preclude any independent or transparent comparison of samples that would make them genuinely useful in helping to identify and quantify illegal and unreported whale catches.
This briefing addresses issues where the text of the IWC proposal has changed since IWCM10-SWG4. Other concerns that remain include the suspension of the moratorium and Southern Ocean Sanctuary. In addition, the provisions for DNA registers and market surveys preclude any independent or transparent comparison of samples that would make them genuinely useful in helping to identify and quantify illegal and unreported whale catches.

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Categories:Types, Research, Law
Published by: International Fund for Animal Welfare on Apr 28, 2010
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04/28/2010

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IFAW Briefing note on implications of proposals inIWC 62-7 issued on 22 April 2010
This briefing addresses issues where the text of the proposal has changed since IWC-M10-SWG4. Other concerns that remain include the suspension of the moratoriumand Southern Ocean Sanctuary. In addition, the provisions for DNA registers andmarket surveys preclude any independent or transparent comparison of samples thatwould make them genuinely useful in helping to identify and quantify illegal andunreported catches.
Catch limits and sustainability 
The proposed new paragraph 33 states that “All catch limits in this table [4] shall beset at or below sustainable levels as determined by the most recent versions of theIWC’s Scientific Committee’s Revised Management Procedure, Strike LimitAlgorithms for indigenous whaling, or, where the results of these are not available,best available science.”Unfortunately the Revised Management Procedure (RMP) is not referenced (forexample by citing the published version), hence virtually any approach to determiningcatch limits could be portrayed as a “latest version of the RMP”. It is left ambiguouswho would decide what counts as the latest version of the RMP, and who wouldimplement it (or choose not to implement it). In comments on the previousproposals
1
, the UK had suggested Schedule text
2
that would have resolved thisambiguity
3
and made it clear that any catch limits should be calculated by theScientific Committee according to the agreed RMP specification. Although appearingto be scientifically based, maintaining the ambiguity in the current proposals allowscatch limits to be based on political decisions.Currently, the Scientific Committee is not authorized to calculate RMP catch limits.Results from the RMP are “not available” until calculated. If the ScientificCommittee may not calculate them, then results remain “unavailable” until some otherbody, such as the IWC Secretariat, choose to calculate them, but it remains at theirdiscretion whether they do so, which tuning they use, which “version” and what dataare used. The procedure to be followed is unspecified and not transparent. This couldalso have been addressed by incorporating the text in the UK proposal and thus thatthe Scientific Committee should undertake the calculations.The version of the RMP used in the Scientific Committee’s Implementation Trials todate is the published version with the tuning of 0.72 specified by the Commission andagreed by consensus. Any catch limits calculated using another tunings would nothave been fully tested and are potentially unsafe. Some catch limits in Table 4 areabove the limits that emerge from the version of the RMP used by the Scientific
1
IWC-M10-SWG4
2
Letter of 31 March 2010 to IWC Secretary www.iwcoffice.org/_documents/commission/future/IWC-A10-SG1.pdf 
3
The proposed text was ‘
catch limits shall have been calculated by the Scientific Committee inaccordance with the Revised Management Procedure published in the
 Journal of Cetacean Research and Management 
(Suppl.) 1:251-254’
 
 
Committee with the agreed population estimates. It is not clear how these can bereconciled with the stipulation in Para 33 that the limits not exceed sustainable levelsas determined by the RMP. To eliminate the ambiguity it would be necessary tospecify that the RMP limits be calculated by the Scientific Committee, to authorizethe Committee to calculate them, and to leave the entries in table 4 at zero pending theresults of the calculations.Under the proposal, the Scientific Committee’s work programme on RMPImplementations is to continue, but it is not clear at what point, if any, any resultsfrom this will feed back into catch limit decisions, or whether the work is merely adecoy. As things currently stand, the Committee will calculate no catch limits, butothers would be free to do so on an opportunistic basis, possible using “versions” ortunings of the RMP that differ from those used by the Scientific Committee in itsImplementations trials. However, sustainability is only guaranteed if the sameversion is used for the trials that determine how the RMP will be implemented and forthe catch limit calculations.The proposals in paragraph 33 make no reference to other human induced sources of mortality such as bycatch. The IWC had previously agreed that catch limits forwhaling should be adjusted such that total human induced mortality did not exceedRMP catch limits. In particular, minke whales in the North Pacific are subject to ahigh level of bycatch and the current proposals make no provision for this to beincluded in setting catch limits, resulting in the risk that total removals areunsustainable.
Comments on the numbers in Table 4 
The numbers in Table 4 do not represent any agreement and are stated as ‘
withoutprejudice to what might be agreed for the post-2020 period’. Therefore these are stillsubject to negotiation and the proposals make no provision for catch levels beyond 2020.However, particular concerns about sustainability would be raised by catches of 120minke whales per year around the coast of Japan, and catches of 80 fin whales in WestIceland. In the former case there is a large bycatch that has not been taken into account,and in the latter case this only appears consistent with the RMP if more research isundertaken and to date no research proposal has been proposed. There also appear to beerrors in the specification of the eastern Atlantic small areas for minke whales which needto be resolved.Regarding the issue of whether the proposal reduces numbers of whales killed, thenumbers aren't yet agreed, but even the example placeholder numbers by the chairmanhardly amount to a reduction. These figures don't include the Japanese and Korean "by-catch" which the proposal does nothing to address anyway. These chairman's numberstotal 1839 per year (for the first 5 years) versus 1863 calculated by adding up the mostrecent available figures. This is a very tiny reduction, and not in the more vulnerablestocks.
International trade and domestic use 
Paragraph 38 (which remains in square brackets because of no agreement among theSmall Working Group) proposes that ‘
Use of any meat or products derived from any

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