U.S. Department of Commerce


Date of this Version



Published in Marine Policy 31 (2007) 314–319.


Morishita’s “multiple analysis”of the whaling issue [Morishita J. Multiple analysis of the whaling issue: Understanding the dispute by a matrix. Marine Policy 2006;30:802–8] is essentially a restatement of the Government of Japan’s whaling policy, which confuses the issue through selective use of data, unsubstantiated facts, and the vilification of opposing perspectives. Here, we deconstruct the major problems with Morishita’s article and provide an alternative view of the whaling dispute. For many people in this debate, the issue is not that some whales are not abundant, but that the whaling industry cannot be trusted to regulate itself or to honestly assess the status of potentially exploitable populations. This suspicion has its origin in Japan’s poor use of science, its often implausible stock assessments, its insistence that culling is an appropriate way to manage marine mammal populations, and its relatively recent falsification of whaling and fisheries catch data combined with a refusal to accept true transparency in catch and market monitoring. Japanese policy on whaling cannot be viewed in isolation, but is part of a larger framework involving a perceived right to secure unlimited access to global marine resources. Whaling is inextricably tied to the international fisheries agreements on which Japan is strongly dependent; thus, concessions made at the IWC would have potentially serious ramifications in other fora.