Sea Shepherd views on the Cruise Report of the Japanese Whale Research Program

June 13, 2013

Sea Shepherd Commentary on the:

Cruise Report of the Japanese Whale Research Program under Special Permit in the Antarctic-Second Phase (JARPA II) in 2012/2013   

Commentary by Rob Read – Sea Shepherd U.K.

Tsutomu Tamura1), Toshihiro Mogoe1), Tatsuya Isoda1), Kazuyoshi Nakai1), Hitomi Sato1), Kazuu Tamahashi2), Tohru Takamatsu2), Masakatsu Mori2), Masaomi Tsunekawa2), Isamu Yoshimura2), Takashi Yoshida1) and Tomoyuki Ogawa2).

The Institute of Cetacean Research, 4-5 Toyomi-cho, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0055 Japan. 2) Kyodo Senpaku Kaisya, Ltd., 4-5 Toyomi-cho, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0055 Japan.


The eighth research cruise of the Japanese Whale Research Program under the Special Permit in the Antarctic- Second Phase (JARPA II) was conducted during the 2012/13 austral summer season, under Article VIII of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW). Three sighting and sampling vessels (SSVs) and one research base ship were engaged in the research for 48 days, from 26 January to 14 March 2013 in Areas III East (35°E - 70°E), IV (70°E - 130°E), V West (130°E - 165°E) and part of Area V East (165°E - 175°E). Unfortunately the research activities were interrupted several times by an anti-whaling group (Sea Shepherd, SS) which directed violent sabotage activities against Japanese research vessels. The research activity of the SSVs was also interrupted several times by the SS group. There was direct sabotage on the research activities from the SS over 21 days. However, the research activities were influenced negatively by the SS during the entire research period. The total searching distance was 2,103.3n.miles. Eleven species including five baleen whales (Antarctic minke, blue, fin, humpback and southern right whales) and two toothed whales (sperm, southern bottlenose whales) were sighted during the research period. A total of 227 schools (412 animals) of humpback whales was sighted. It was the dominant whale species in the research area followed by the Antarctic minke whales (149 schools, 280 animals), fin whales (61 schools, 241 animals). The number of sightings of the humpback whales was about 1.5 times higher than that of Antarctic minke whales. A total of 103 Antarctic minke whales were sampled. All whales sampled were examined on board the research base vessel. Photo-id experiments were conducted on three blue whales, seven humpback whales and one southern right whale. A total of three skin biopsy samples were collected from humpback whales. Oceanographic surveys were conducted at 55 points using XCTD to investigate vertical sea temperature and salinity profiles. The main results of this survey can be summarized as follows: 1) humpback whales were widely distributed in the research area and its density index was higher than that of the Antarctic minke whales in all areas except in the Prydz Bay; 2) the ice-free extent of the research area was substantially larger than in past seasons; 3) mature female Antarctic minke whale were observed only in the Prydz Bay; 4) all Antarctic minke whales sampled in Area IV east were immature animals.

Sea Shepherd Response:

Sea Shepherd (excluding Sea Shepherd USA) is flattered that this report devotes so much time to underlining the success of the Sea Shepherd crew’s efforts to obstruct illegal whaling activities in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. We do dispute the use of the word “violent” they attribute to us. Sea Shepherd crew did not prop foul or throw any objects at the Japanese ships nor did any Sea Shepherd ship deliberately collide with a Japanese whaling ship. On the other hand the Nisshin Maru inflicted extensive damage to three Sea Shepherd ships by repeatedly ramming the vessels in addition to ramming their own refuelling tanker. The Japanese whalers also threw concussion grenades and other objects directly at Sea Shepherd crew.

The statement “the research activities were influenced negatively by the SS during the entire research period” is exactly the intention of Sea Shepherd efforts and Sea Shepherd welcomes the verification of this objective being achieved.

The crew on the three Sea Shepherd ships dispute the Japanese position that Humpbacks were the dominant whale sighted more often than Minke whales. The Sea Shepherd crew travelled the same course lines as the whaling ships and observed many more Minke whales than Humpbacks. It is the Sea Shepherd position that Japan is fabricating these reports to lay the groundwork for a lethal take of Humpbacks next season or the season after. Japan has wanted Humpbacks for some time and they are listed on the permits granted by the Japanese government where a take of 50 Humpback whales may be allowed although this take has been suspended each year. The killing of Humpbacks would enrage world opinion, especially in Australia and Japan has been using the threat of killing them for leverage at the IWC meetings.

The Japanese reported seeing 412 Humpbacks from their four ships whereas the three Sea Shepherd ships travelling in the same waters saw no more that 46 Humpbacks.

The Japanese whalers have their own Orwellian language now where they have replaced the word “killing” with the word “sampling”.


The Japanese Whale Research Program under Special Permit in the Antarctic (JARPA) was conducted between 1987/88 and 2004/05 austral summer seasons, under Article VIII of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling. JARPA provided a wide variety of information on biological parameters of Antarctic minke whale (Balaenoptera bonaerensis) such as the natural mortality coefficient and changes over time in the age at maturity as well as narrowing down the parameters of relevance for stock management (IWC, 1998, Anonymous, 2005). JARPA also elucidated that there were at least two stocks of Antarctic minke whales in the research area but their geographical boundaries were different from those used for the IWC Areas (Pastene, 2006). Also JARPA found that pollutant concentration in whale’s tissues, such as heavy metals and PCBs, was extremely low (Yasunaga et al, 2006). Further, JARPA showed an annual decreasing trend in energy storage in the 18 year period of JARPA (Konishi et al., 2008). JARPA has thus successfully obtained data related to the initially proposed objectives (IWC, 2007; 2008a).

Based on these considerations, the Government of Japan launched a new comprehensive study under the Second Phase of the Japanese Whale Research Program under Special Permit in the Antarctic (JARPA II), combining lethal and non- lethal methods, starting from the 2005/2006 austral summer season (Government of Japan, 2005). The full-scale JARPAII started from the 2007/08 season. JARPA II is a long-term research program with the following objectives: 1) Monitoring of the Antarctic ecosystem, 2) Modeling interaction among whale species and developing future management objectives, 3) Elucidation of temporal and spatial changes in stock structure and 4) Improving the management procedure for the Antarctic minke whale stocks. JARPA II focuses on Antarctic minke whale, humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), fin whale (B. physalus) and possibly other species in the Antarctic ecosystem that are major predators of Antarctic krill.

Sea Shepherd Response:

This is a long winded way of saying they want to return to commercial whale killing. Plenty of references to whales as “stocks” and the need to “manage”. We all remember how that worked for the whales in the days before the moratorium with Japan and the Soviet Union both cooking the books and reporting far less whales than they actually slaughtered.

Objective No 1 of JARPA: Monitoring the Antarctic ecosystem – is code for ‘looking for ways to exploit Antarctic resources’.

Objective No. 2 of JARPA: Modelling interaction among whale species and developing future management objectives –is just code for ‘developing future plans to re-open commercial whaling activities in the Southern Ocean’.

Objective No. 3 of JARPA: Elucidation of temporal and spatial changes in stock structure: Elucidation means ‘explain clearly’ which is certainly something not being done here with their fancy words for time and space causing changes in numbers of whales. What they should be saying is that their damn harpoons are causing significant negative impact over the time they have been illegally whaling inside the boundaries of an internationally established whale sanctuary.

And Objective No. 4 of JARPA: Improving the management procedure for the Antarctic minke whale stocks. – Is just code for the ‘need to keep harpooners and flensers trained in the art of murdering whales’.

The last part hints at whales being competition for krill which the Japanese exploit as a cheap protein source of animal feed. The last part clearly indicates that Japan has other ambitions in Antarctica beyond whales and they specifically mention their desire to kill Humpback whales.

JARPAII is a perfectly legal activity carried out under the ICRW. Despite this in recent years a violent anti-whaling group (Sea Shepherd, SS) has engaged in violent sabotage activities against the research vessels of JARPA II. The IWC has condemned SS’s tactics against Japan’s whale research vessels. In 2008 the IWC member countries adopted by consensus a statement which calls this group “to refrain from dangerous actions that jeopardize safety at sea”, regardless of different positions of countries on whaling (IWC 2008b). The International Maritime Organization (IMO) also adopted a resolution that seriously concerned safety and security of vessels, human life and marine environment caused by unlawful protests or confrontations on the high seas (IMO, 2010).

Despite those international efforts to avoid confrontations at sea, the research activities of the JARPA II survey in 2012/13 were again interrupted by the SS group during the research area. In order to secure safety for the research vessels and their crew members, the planned sighting vessels had to dedicate many of its planned research time to security tasks. It was very regrettable and disappointing to report that this large investment - dedicated sighting survey in the Antarctic - had to be cancelled in the 2012/13 season as same as the 2011/12. These dedicated sighting surveys were planned according to the IWC survey guideline (IWC, 2005) and were endorsed by the IWC SC in 2011 and 2012 (IWC, 2011, 2012).

The present paper reports the eighth survey of the JARPA II conducted during the austral summer season 2012/13.

Sea Shepherd Response:

If JARPA was a perfectly legal activity then why is Australia and New Zealand taking Japan to the International Court of Justice to challenge their poaching operations in the Southern Ocean. This whale slaughter has already been condemned by the Australian Federal Court and the Japanese whalers are in contempt of this ruling. Japanese whaling ships cannot enter Australian or New Zealand ports without being arrested. This does not sound like and legal activity to us. On the other hand Sea Shepherd ships are free to use Australian and New Zealand ports as bases of operations to oppose Japanese whaling.

The IWC has condemned Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. What is the point of establishing a sanctuary for whales if whales can be freely killed within it? What is the point of declaring a moratorium on commercial whaling if commercial whaling continues to operate under the guise of a science that has no credibility within the scientific community?

The IWC or the IMO have ever communicated to Sea Shepherd that Sea Shepherd interventions are condemned or prohibited. Not one letter, fax, or e-mail, not even a postcard.

Our favourite part of this section of the report is: “It was very regrettable and disappointing to report that this large investment - dedicated sighting survey in the Antarctic - had to be cancelled in the 2012/13 season as same as the2011/12.”

Sea Shepherd has no regrets and we are certainly not disappointed. In fact we are delighted to have saved the lives of all of these whales from the “dedicated sighting survey”. We are absolutely filled with joy that these lethal sighting surveys were cancelled and we plan to see that the 2013/2014 season is more of the same.


Research vessels:

The research fleet was composed of one dedicated sighting vessel, two sighting and sampling vessels and one research base vessel. The following vessels were used.

Research base vessel Nisshin-Maru (NM; 8,141 tons)

Sighting and sampling vessels (SSVs) Yushin-Maru (YS; 720 tons) Yushin-Maru No.2 (YS2; 747 tons) Yushin-Maru No.3 (YS3; 742 tons)

Two SSVs (YS and YS2) were engaged in sighting and oceanographic surveys and most of the experiments. NM served as a research base on which all biological examinations of sampled whales were conducted.

Sea Shepherd Response:

Hmmm.....not a single harpoon vessel mentioned. One vessel to only sight, two to sight and sample and one research base? Sea Shepherd’s crew saw something completely different - more like three hunter killer harpoon boats and one floating slaughterhouse. The “biological examinations of sampled whales” involved cutting up, packaging and flash freezing. Onboard the multi-million dollar meat packing research facility, each whale is sliced and diced within an hour without a single scientist in a white coat doing much of anything except extracting an inner ear bone. The swarm of men doing the flensing on deck look just like the butchers they are......and certainly not like scientists.

Research area and ice edge:

The area covered by JARPA II is basically the same as in JARPA; the eastern part of Area III, Areas IV and V, and the western part of Area VI. The total area extents from 35°E to 145°W, south of 60°S. In this season, JARPA II surveyed the eastern part of Area III, Area IV and western part of Area V (35°E - 165°E). Figure 1 shows the geographic location of the research area for the2012/2013 JARPA II survey. For this survey, our best estimate of the position of the ice edge was based on our visual and radar observations of the ice edge as well as satellite predictions. In this season, the ice-free extent of the research area including the Prydz Bay was substantially larger than previous surveys.

Survey track design:

The survey track line for the SSVs consisted of a zigzag course changing direction at 1°40’ longitudinal degree intervals. For SSVs, two parallel track lines were set at 7n.miles apart.

Sighting methods:

Sighting procedures were the same as in the previous JARPA surveys (e.g. Nishiwaki et al. 2007). The sighting surveys by SSVs were conducted under limited closing mode (when a sighting of Antarctic minke whales were made on the predetermined track line, the vessel approached the whales and confirmed species and school size). Three SSVs advanced along parallel track lines 7n.miles apart, at a standard speed of 11.5 knots. The survey was operated under optimal research conditions (i.e., the wind speed below 25 knot in the south strata and 20 knot in the north strata, and visibility of more than 1.5n.miles). In addition to the sighting of Antarctic minke whales, the SSVs approached blue (B. musculus), fin, humpback, southern right (Eubalaena australis), pigmy right (Caperea marginata), sei (B.borealis), sperm (Physeter macrocehpalus) and southern bottlenose (Hyperoodon planifrons) for conducting some experiments. The SSVs also approached the same whale species for experiments while they engaged in sighting survey.

Sampling methods:

Three SSVs were engaged in sampling survey. Sampling of 850 Antarctic minke whales (with 10 % of allowance) and 50 fin whales was planned in the research area south of 62°S during 2012/13 JARPA2. Although the original plan included 50humpback whales (Government of Japan, 2005), Government of Japan decided to suspend the sampling of humpback whales.

One to two Antarctic minke whales were sampled randomly from each primary sighted school within 3n.miles of the track line. Dwarf minke whales were not a target for sampling. Sampling of fin whales was restricted to those animals with an estimated body length less than 20m due to logistic limitations at the NM. Only one fin whale was planned to be sampled from each primary sighted school within 3n.miles of the track line. If two or more animals smaller than 18m were found in a school, then only one of them was randomly selected and sampled.

Biological research:

Most of the biological research methods used in this JARPA II survey were developed and improved during the JARPA 18 year research period. Biological research including scaling body weight on all sampled whales was conducted on the NM.


Sighting distance and angle experiment:

This experiment was conducted in order to evaluate the accuracy of the information on sighting distance and sighting angle given by observers of the SSVs.

Photo-identification experiment:

The following species were targeted for photographic record of natural markings by SSVs: blue, humpback and southern right whales.

Biopsy sampling:

In addition to the species targeted for photo-identification experiment, pygmyright, fin, sei, Antarctic minke, sperm and southern bottlenose, were targeted for biopsy skin sampling by the SSVs using compound-crossbow. All collectedsample were preserved at –20°C.

Satellite tag:

Blue, southern right and humpback whales were the target species for this experiment by the SSVs, which used the ICR air gun (Kasamatsu et al., 1991).

Vomiting and faecal observation:

The SSVs were engaged in observations of vomits and faeces of sighted whales.

Sea Shepherd Response:

Ahhh.....the pleasant job on the whaling vessels. Now we know why they don’t get that put off from Sea Shepherd’s previous rotten butter attacks. With their faces buried in whale shit and vomit I can see how they have become used to unpleasant smells.

Marine debris observation:

Observation of marine debris was conducted from the wheelhouse of the SSV (YS2) in the research area. Marine debris was also investigated in the stomach contents of Antarctic minke and fin whales sampled.

Oceanographic survey:

Two SSVs (YS and YS2) planned the following oceanographic survey; 1) consecutive measuring of vertical water temperature profile by Expendable XCTD system and 2) marine debris recording in the research area. All marine debris found in the stomach of whales taken was also recorded on the NM.

Sea Shepherd Response:

All of this non-lethal “research” they claim they are doing is being done more efficiently and for far less money by Australia through non lethal research exclusively. How many whales must the Japanese kill to “discover” what we already know they eat. As for ‘marine debris’ – you don’t need to kill whales to know the ocean is full of debris....just look on most beaches!


Outline of the cruise

SSV (YS3) departed Shiogama (Japan) on 26 December 2012. Two SSVs (YS1 and YS2) and NM departed from Shimonoseki and Innoshima, respectively on 28 December 2012 and started Antarctic sighting and sampling surveys in the research area on 26 January 2013. The Antarctic research period of this cruise was 48 days from 26 January 2013 to 14 March 2013. The research activities were interrupted directly by the SS over 21 days. However, the research activities in the whole period were influences negatively by this group. Sighting and sampling effort was substantially diminished. Research vessels were frequently attacked by the anti-whaling group and the survey was interrupted in several opportunities. One SSV (YS3) had to be engaged in monitoring the anti-whaling group vessels most of the research period. Due to this interference SSVs (YS1 and YS2) cancelled the research in the large part of the research area, Area III east, a part of Area IV, Area V. SSV (YS3) arrived at Tokyo on 4 April 2013 and Two SSVs (YS1 and YS2) and NM arrived at Shimonoseki on 7 April 2013.

Sea Shepherd Response:

Our favourite sentence: “However, the research activities in the whole period were influences negatively by this group. Sighting and sampling effort was substantially diminished.” And also: “Due to this interference SSVs (YS1 and YS2) cancelled the research in the large part of the research area.” Sea Shepherd reduced the murder rate in the Southern Ocean by just over 90% and we are very pleased with that result.

The great thing about this report is they just can’t stop talking about Sea Shepherd. We are the eternally annoying mosquito buzzing in their ears. They love to play the victim - as those poor helpless innocent whale killers being bullied by those violent aggressive whale huggers.

Sighting survey and whale species sighted:

The total searching distances was 2,103n.miles consisting of 1,304n.miles for the sampling mode and 798n.miles for the sighting mode. Seven species including five baleen whales and two toothed whales were identified during the research period. The following five species of baleen whales were confirmed: Antarctic minke, blue, fin, humpback and southern right whales, and two toothed whale species were confirmed; sperm and southern bottlenose whales.

The 1994-95 the IWC/SOWER cruise (Ensor et al. 1995) was conducted in similar areas and period as in the present survey. This fact provides a good opportunity to compare the whale composition in the area in two different seasons. In 1994/95 season Antarctic minke whales were the most frequent species encountered in the research area. Humpback whales were also common in the research area. The number of sightings of Antarctic minke whales (291 schools and 508 individuals) was about 5.0 times higher than that of humpback whales (46 schools and 100 individuals). This comparison suggests that humpback whales were increasing and expanding in the research area.

Sampling for Antarctic minke and fin whales:

Out of 149 schools (280 individuals) in the primary sightings of Antarctic minke whales by three SSVs, 117 schools (216 individuals) were targeted for sampling. A total of 103 individuals were sampled (three from Area III East, 99 from Area IV and one from Area V West). Sampling efficiency (the rate of successful sampling for targeted individuals) was 92.2 % for the first targeted individual from schools with single individual and 97.6 % for the first targeted individual from schools with more than one individual. No struck and lost case occurred. SSVs found out of 48 schools (185 individuals) as primary sightings of fin whales.

Sampling for these fin whales was not conducted due to sabotage by the anti-whaling group and inappropriate sea condition for safe transferring and flensing and/or practical reasons. As a result, no individual of fin whales was sampled.

Sea Shepherd Response:

They sure do want to justify going after Humpbacks!

We love the quote: “Sampling for these fin whales was not conducted due to sabotage by the anti-whaling group.........”

Score another victory for the whales! What the whalers call sabotage, we call justified non-violent intervention to uphold the integrity of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

Biological research:

Biological research was conducted on the research base vessel for all whales sampled.

Biological information of sampled whales:

Mature females were only observed in the Prydz Bay strata. In the other hand, all individuals sampled were only immature males and females in the Areas IV East and V West. Appearance pregnancy rate in mature females was 96.2 % in the Prydz Bay strata. No lactating females were sampled, and no suckling calf was sampled nor observed.

Maximum body length of the sample was 9.88 m for females and 9.15 m for males. Minimum body length was 5.01 m and 4.43 m for female and male, respectively. Maximum body length of immature animals was 8.25 m and 8.24 m for female and male, respectively, whereas minimum body length of mature animals was 8.20 m and 7.87 m for female and male, respectively.

Sea Shepherd Response:

Ah....Just like we have seen in past fisheries history – the best way to wipe out a population (just like with Bluefin Tuna and Cod) is to kill immature animals which have never even had a chance to breed.


Photo-ID and biopsy sampling:

A total of three blue, seven humpback whales and one southern right whale was photographed. A total of three biopsy samples were collected from three humpback whales.

Vomiting and faecal observation:

No case of vomiting and faecal was observed.

Sea Shepherd Response:

Oh too bad. What a disappointment!

What is not a disappointment is that Japan’s whalers took only 11% of their Minke whale quota and 0% of their Fin and Humpback quota.

832 Minke whales not slain! 50 Humpbacks and 50 Fins not slaughtered!

Many thanks to Japan’s illegal commercial whalers (the ICR) who have once again credited Sea Shepherd for saving the whales from their cruel explosive harpoons. This was Japan’s most disastrous whaling season ever.

Congratulations to Sea Shepherd Australia for leading such a successful Antarctic whale campaign. Also to my thanks to the Sea Shepherd crew from across the world and the on-shore volunteers, donors and supporters who made this Sea Shepherd campaign possible.

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