Center for Biological Diversity

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More Information: Dr. Taylor's Review, Berlin Intiative


Center for Biological Diversity conservation biologist Dr Martin Taylor was invited to participate in the 55th meeting of the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission in Berlin from May 26-June 6, with assistance from the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (UK) and the Government of Australia.

The Scientific Committee has recommended a commercial whaling quota that would allow Japan to catch minke whales in the north west Pacific ocean. This is the first time that a quota for commercial whaling of a whale species has been recommended.

However, Dr Taylor and other scientists voiced concern in the Committee that the simulation models used to derive the quotas had failed to examine important interactions between climate change, habitat degradation and the complex dispersal behavior of different stocks of the minke whales.

‘ Climate change is highly likely to change dispersal patterns. The models will quickly become irrelevant if they fail to account for these effects. Faulty commercial quotas could endanger whales already dying under so-called “scientific whaling” by the government of Japan, as well as high levels of “bycatch” by fishing vessels.’ Taylor said. ‘It was disturbing that Bush administration scientists were pushing for a commercial quota in the face of such uncertainties,’ he added.

Taylor presented a review of the impacts of habitat degradation and climate change on whales and dolphins. Based on this review the Scientific Committee recommended that a workshop on habitat degradation be held in the next year.

On Monday June 16, the opening day of the full Commission meeting, a resolution developed by anti-whaling nations called the ‘Berlin Initiative’ was adopted that will form a new Conservation Committee with an emphasis on whale conservation and protection rather than whaling.

‘ It’s an important forward step to have a new committee dedicated to protection instead of whaling. The scientific committee remains dominated by an outdated emphasis on whaling quotas, while the rest of the world has moved on and is now focused on non-consumptive sustainable use, such as whale watching and scientific research.” Taylor said.


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