The Japanese invented the concept of 'scientific' whaling in 1987 as a way round the moratorium on commercial whaling instituted by the the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Their research is not really research. It is an excuse for supplying whale meat on the Japanese market, though that market is dying.
The science they perform consists of DNA sampling, physical measurements such as earbone size, age ID, and most importantly, the contents in the digestive tract.
The data on what the whales eat is then perverted to help their propaganda campaign, which argues that whales eat too much commercially important fish, and that we should cull the population to save our fisheries. They selectively release data on certain species, while ignoring data on others, especially baleen species.
Iceland is just following Japan's example of taking advantage of IWC loopholes, as an excuse to resume commercial hunts.
Australia and many other countries use non-lethal data collection techniques, such as "knicking" the skin of a whale for biopsy samples to determine DNA and toxin levels. Analysis of faeces is the most accurate way of determining the animals' diet.
Also, tagging whales with data sensors and tracking their movements tell us much more about their behavior and life patterns than any forensic data could provide.
Killing 38 Minke whales this year is the thin edge of the wedge. Iceland intends to catch 500 whales over the next two years (200 Minke whales, 200 Fin whales and 100 Sei whales).Clearly there can be no 'scientific' justification for this level of whaling - the Government of Iceland is once again trying to resume commercial whaling via the back door, with an eye on the lucrative Japanese export market.
Don't be fooled by the terminology. It is not research, it is commercial whaling. Nobody needs 500 whales, most from the same species (minke), and from the same feeding ground, to "research" anything of importance.
IWC rejects Iceland's scientific programme
In a strongly worded resolution at this year's IWC, the Commission fired a shot across the bows of Iceland's whaling industry which plans to commence a scientific hunt for export to Japan possibly as early as this summer.
During the debate, members of the Commission restated the concerns of Scientific Committee members who had reviewed Iceland's research proposal, and scientific whaling in general. Thirty nine of the Scientific Committee's national delegates from many different nations had concluded that, not only was Iceland's research proposal poorly contrived and unlikely to yield relevant results, but that it was 'deficient in almost every respect'. Below is a summary of some of their reasons:
1 IWC scientists have already unanimously agreed on the scientific aspect of a management system. The system does not require any of the data provided by Iceland's "research" programmes.
2 Articles 65 and 120 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLO establish that all countries must "cooperate with a view to the conservation of marine mammals and in the case of cetaceans shall in particular work through the appropriate international organisations for their conservation, management and study
3 The management plan agreed by IWC scientists requires only information that can be obtained without killing whales.
4 UNCED said that because of their special status under international law as highly migratory animals and as marine mammals, the management of cetaceans can be more strict than that of other marine species, including a prohibition on their catching. There was no "list of resources open to sustainable use and development" approved at UNCED and there was no "explicit rejection" of whales from this purported list.
5 The Scientific Committee Working Group has also agreed that the data produced by killing whales is "not required for management".
6 Of the 5000 minke whales stomachs so far 'sampled' by Japanese whalers in the Antarctic, every one has contained krill and only krill, a fact that was known long before the 'research' began.