Summary statement supporting the use of lethal removal and refuting its use, as it pertains to the collection of information on stock structure.
1. A STATEMENT REFUTING THE NEED FOR LETHAL REMOVALS.
All of the genetic information required for purposes of stock identity can be obtained by non-lethal methods. First, there is a large archive of samples from both JARPA and prior commercial operations, and which deserve further analysis without the need to collect new samples. Further use of available samples can be made by (1) testing varying stock boundaries and time periods, (2) applying different molecular techniques and (3) assessing potential biases from the non-random samples from commercial operations. Use of microsatellites, which are generally more sensitive markers for detecting population structure, will likely greatly reduce the number of samples needed. Second, the SC recognised that sampling the breeding grounds (in lower latitudes) would greatly enhance the power of genetic analyses. It is important to note that non-lethal sampling is the only option in many of the suggested breeding grounds. Third, biopsy sampling techniques can and should be improved to apply specifically to minke whales. At present, minke whales are easier to kill than to biopsy because killing technology has been developed for this species and for the weather conditions commonly encountered in the Southern Ocean. A similar effort in developing appropriate biopsy technology needs to take place. Fourth, molecular techniques are usually more powerful in identifying population structure than other techniques. The most efficient approach to analysing stock structure would be hierarchical, where molecular genetic techniques would be used first (both mitochondrial and nuclear). Only if no structure were detected would further techniques be initiated. In the case of JARPA non-genetic data, it was noted that it was difficult to evaluate its utility because analyses were incomplete. Therefore, it was not possible to evaluate whether these other data make a contribution beyond what has already been leaned using molecular genetic techniques regarding stock structure. Finally, samples can also be collected from stranded whales and whales taken as by-catch.
2. A STATEMENT SUPPORTING THE NEED FOR LETHAL REMOVALS.
Information required for stock identification can not be obtained by non-lethal means alone. Rather, a variety of approaches should be used, many of which require lethal techniques. Genetic analyses using DNA can be conducted using biopsy sampling. However, the number of samples required in studies on stock identification in the case of the southern minke whale is large, and consideration of sampling collection should be taken into account. Regarding the collection of biopsy samples for DNA analyses, it should be noted that biopsy sampling techniques have not been successfully developed for use with minks whales. Considering the logistics of studying minke whales in the Southern Ocean, biopsy techniques that could be developed for use in low latitudes will likely not prove workable at high latitudes. Further, given the need for cost-effective sampling regimes due to the high operating costs of working in the Southern Ocean and the need for adequate sample size, it is unlikely that biopsy sampling would prove useful. Regarding non-genetic techniques for stock identification, it has been recognised that the age of individual whales is an indispensable piece of information in interpreting stock structure and that there are currently no non-lethal techniques that provide information on age. For example, many different sets of data that have been used to infer stock structure in other populations of large whales which require information on age (e.g., average age at sexual maturity, average age at recruitment, age specific reproductive rates, and pollutant levels). Also, some kinds of genetic analyses for studies on stock structure, such as allozyme, require tissues other than skin or blubber, which can only be obtained using lethal techniques. Furthermore, studies that are based on morphometrics, parasites, conception dates, pollutant burdens, etc. are also useful for stock identification, and they can not be undertaken using non-lethal techniques. In addition, while non-lethal techniques are the only option for rare or endangered stocks, lethal techniques when applied to healthy and relatively large populations typically produce research results more quickly than non-lethal techniques. Finally, the proceeds from the sale of post-study by-products of lethal studies, in accordance with Article 8 of the International Whaling Convention, can be used to offset some of the extreme costs of conducting research on minke whales in the Southern Ocean. The offsetting of costs is not possible using non-lethal techniques.