Head of whaling body quits over 'political move': Procedure to allow sustainable hunting was deliberately ignored, scientist says

A LEADING British scientist in the International Whaling Commission has resigned his post over the way in which science has been ignored in the commercial whaling debate.

Scientists appointed by the commission have spent years devising a foolproof method for selecting how many whales can be harpooned while guaranteeing to keep stocks at a healthy level.

However, at last month's annual meeting of the IWC in Kyoto, Japan, the commission declined to adopt the work of its scientific committee on the Revised Management Procedure for whaling.

'The reasons were nothing to do with science, they were political,' Philip Hammond, of Britain's Marine Mammal Research Unit in Cambridge, told the Independent yesterday. He has quit as chairman while remaining on the committee.

The commission is dominated by an anti-whaling majority, led by nations such as the US, Britain and Australia - known as the 'like-minded group'. Facing pressure from environmental and animal welfare bodies such as Greenpeace and WWF, the group's aim is to stretch out the IWC's 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling indefinitely, however healthy the level of whale stocks.

Dr Hammond, an expert on whale, dolphin and seal populations, emphasised that adopting the Revised Management Procedure did not commit the IWC to ending the moratorium. Before it can be lifted the commission will have to hold difficult debates on whether whales can be killed humanely and what type of international observer scheme is needed to ensure a nation's whaling fleet does not kill more animals than its quota.

Dr Hammond said it took years of intense argument and high-powered thought within the 100-strong committee to devise a Revised Management Procedure which secured its unanimous backing. 'The future of this unique piece of work, for which the commission had been waiting for many years, was left in the air,' he wrote in his resignation letter to the IWC's secretary, Dr Ray Gambell.

'What is the point of having a scientific committee if its unanimous recommendations on a matter of primary importance are treated with contempt? The morale of the committee is lower than at any other time.'

Dr Hammond said he had spent more than a third of his working time in the past year on scientific committee tasks. 'Given the outcome, I can no longer justify that amount of time to myself or my employer,' he said.

The highly complex Revised Management Procedure would not allow any population of whales to be caught if their numbers fell to less than 54 per cent of their natural level before hunting began. It would also set quotas which would allow populations to climb to more than 70 per cent of the pre-exploitation level.

Dr Hammond's resignation will give some comfort to Japan and Norway, the pro-whaling IWC nations. The Norwegian government is defying the IWC, allowing its whalers to catch 296 minke whales in the north-east Atlantic this year - 160 for commerce, 136 for scientific research. But the country's whaling fleet has been beset by bad weather. So far, only four have been killed.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Newly Qualified Teachers

£90 - £115 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: We are currently looking fo...

Year 3/4 Teacher

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Job Share Year 3/4 Teacher...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments