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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
musicOfficial chart could be moved to accommodate Friday international release day
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
News
i100
Sport
Italy celebrate scoring their second try
six nations
Sport
Glenn Murray celebrates scoring against West Ham
footballWest Ham 1 Crystal Palace 3
Arts and Entertainment
Drake continues to tease ahead of the release of his new album
music
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review