Have Southern Ocean whale populations recovered from the intense whaling of the last century and what is the future of these populations?
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree LevelPostgraduate Certificate
Degree NamePostgraduate Certificate in Antarctic Studies
In 1904 shore based whaling moved to the Antarctic region and in 1925 factory ships beganharvesting the open oceans. The International Whaling Commission (IWC) was set up in 1946 bywhich time southern right whales and humpbacks in the Southern Ocean were commercially extinct.Quotas and management practices were set in place but catches increased until 1962 whenpopulations crashed. It wasn't until 1986, that a full moratorium on commercial whaling took placebut there was a loop hole to allow scientific whaling. DNA sampling from whale meats fromJapanese markets in the early 1990's showed that the Japanese had been illegally harvestinghumpback whales. Records obtained after the fall of the Soviet Union showed they had beenundertaking extensive illegal whaling. In recent years, key whale species taken in the SouthernOcean have shown signs of recovery but this varies greatly with blue whales still considered highlyendangered. The IWC was not effective with the management of the initial whale stocks and nowthey are faced with a polarised view amongst members with no areas of compromise. Fundamentalissues on how we feed the growing human population are discussed but require further research.
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