Stinky Whales on the Menu for Plenary Day Two

September 16, 2014

Conservation Committee Report

The Russian Federation states it has been struggling with stinky whales since the 1990s. Aboriginal hunters were the first to notice an unusual medicinal scent in the whales. Russia stated that in numerous cases, the smell couldn't be detected until after they killed the whale and brought it on land. They have yet to identify the cause of the smell despite the meat being investigated every year by Moscow State University. They state that transportation time may have diminished the smell by the time it reached Moscow, hindering detection of the substance by the researchers.

The whales are considered inedible due, not only from the smell itself, but also from the resulting medical conditions (vomiting and diarrhea) brought upon those who consumed the stinky meat. Yet, they acknowledge that not all consumers of the stinky meat produced medical problems. Russia also made the point that even tired [sled] dogs were refusing to eat the meat because of the smell. According to the hunters' records, the frequency of stinky whales is increasing each year. They also note that other marine mammals, fish, and sea birds have been observed with a similar smell.

During the conservation subcommittee meeting held last week, Russia claimed that around 10% of all whale catches were stinky in the 1990s. Though only between two and seven stinky whales are recorded each year, Russia asserted that the smell is not always pronounced at first, but can become pungent after cooking, subsequently resulting in discarded, inedible whale meat that goes unreported. Therefore, the Russian Federation would like to be able to record the stinky whales as struck and lost so it doesn't count towards their catch quota and seeks assistance from the Scientific Committee on establishing a way forward.

After some clarification discussions between the Russian Federation and member nations (mainly Japan, Denmark, Australia, and the U.S.), the official proposal was simply to move the discussion of how to handle the stinky whales and quota issue from the Conservation Committee to the Scientific Committee.

One of the few issues Japan, U.S., and like-minded countries could agree upon was the concern over the Western Pacific gray whale stock if Russia did not have to count them in their catch quotas. However, Denmark (Greenland) stated their support for the Russian Federation as well as their hope that all inedible whales caught, not just from the stinky whale problem, but for any reason, not be included in catch quotas.

Final decision: The issue of the Russian Federation's Incredibly Stinky Whales had unanimous support to move it from the Conservation Committee to the Scientific Committee.


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A special thank you to...

Ken SextonDivya SivaramanLynette Koftinow
Betty and Terry BorgJanet and Joe Faina
Brenda HemkenNicolas BorgDivya Sivaraman

...and everyone else that contributed to make my attendance at the IWC possible