U.S. Department of Commerce


Date of this Version



Published in NATURE VOL 375, 25 MAY 1995.


You published recently (Nature 374, 587; 1995) a report headed "Error re-opens 'scientific' whaling debate".

The error in question, however, relates to commercial whaling, not to scientific whaling. Although Norway cites science as a basis for the way in which it sets its own quota. scientific whaling means something quite different. namely killing whales for research purposes. Any member of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) has the right to conduct a research catch under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling. 1946. The IWC has reviewed new research or scientific whaling programs for Japan and Norway since the IWC moratorium on commercial whaling began in 1986. In every case, the IWC advised Japan and Norway to reconsider the lethal aspects of their research programs. Last year, however, Norway started a commercial hunt in combination with its scientific catch, despite the IWC moratorium.