Catches of Humpback Whales, Megaptera

Catches of Humpback Whales, Megaptera novaeangliae,
by the Soviet Union and Other Nations
in the Southern Ocean, 1947–1973
PHIL CLAPHAM, YURI MIKHALEV, WALLY FRANKLIN, DAVID PATON,
C. SCOTT BAKER, YULIA V. IVASHCHENKO, and ROBERT L. BROWNELL, JR.
The great whales of the Southern
Ocean were extensively exploited by
modern whaling methods, with the first
catches made in the Falkland Islands
Dependencies region of IWC Management Area II in 1904 (Tønnesson and
Johnsen, 1982; Hart, 2006). Exploitation
went through several phases. Populations of humpback whales, Megaptera
novaeangliae, and blue whales, Balaenoptera musculus, around South Georgia crashed around the time of World
War I, and further exploitation occurred
in other regions into the 1930’s. There
was a hiatus in whaling during World
War II, but large-scale catches resumed
in Antarctic waters after 1945.
As is now well known, between 1947
and 1973 the Soviet Union conducted
large-scale illegal whaling throughout
much of the North Pacific, Indian,
South Atlantic, and Southern Oceans
(Yablokov, 1994, 1995; Yablokov et al.,
1998; Ivashchenko et al., 2007; Berzin,
2008; Clapham and Ivashchenko, 2009).
This campaign involved the killing
of animals of all ages and species, irrespective of quotas, regulations, and
protected status established at the time
by the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Much of the true catch data
have now been made available through
the efforts of former Soviet biologists
working aboard the various factory
ships involved; these data involve the
number of animals taken, and sometimes
additional details such as location of
catch and biological characteristics of
the whales.
In the Southern Hemisphere alone,
almost 100,000 whales were secretly
killed by the U.S.S.R. and not reported
to the IWC (Yablokov et al., 1998;
Clapham and Baker, 2002). Of this total,
some 46,000 were humpback whales.
Although the locations (general or spe-
Phil Clapham is with the National Marine
Mammal Laboratory, Alaska Fisheries Science
Center, National Marine Fisheries Service,
NOAA, 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA
98115 (e-mail: phillip.clapham@noaa.gov) and
the South Pacific Whale Research Consortium,
P.O. Box 3069, Avarua, Rarotonga, Cook Islands.
Yuri Mikhalev is with the Ukranian Pedagogical
University, Staroportofrankovskaya 26, Odessa
270020, Ukraine. Wally Franklin is with the
South Pacific Whale Research Consortium, P.O.
Box 3069, Avarua, Rarotonga, Cook Islands and
the Oceania Project, P.O. Box 646, Byron Bay,
NSW 2481, Australia. David Paton is with the
South Pacific Whale Research Consortium, P.O.
Box 3069, Avarua, Rarotonga, Cook Islands and
Blue Planet Marine, P.O. Box 5535, Kingston,
ACT 2604, Australia. C. Scott Baker is with the
South Pacific Whale Research Consortium, P.O.
Box 3069, Avarua, Rarotonga, Cook Islands and
the Marine Mammal Institute and Department of
Fisheries and Wildlife, Oregon State University,
2030 SE Marine Science, Drive, Newport, OR
97365. Yulia Ivashchenko is with Seastar Scientific, Dzerzhinskogo St 5-30, 150033 Yaroslavl, Russia (current address: National Marine
Mammal Laboratory, Alaska Fisheries Science
Center, NMFS, NOAA, 7600 Sand Point Way
NE, Seattle, WA 98115). Robert L. Brownell, Jr.
is with the National Marine Fisheries Service,
NOAA, Southwest Fisheries Science Center,
1352 Lighthouse Avenue, Pacific Grove, CA
93950.
ABSTRACT—From 1947 to 1973, the
U.S.S.R. conducted a huge campaign of
illegal whaling worldwide. We review
Soviet catches of humpback whales, Megaptera novaeangliae, in the Southern
Ocean during this period, with an emphasis on the International Whaling Commission’s Antarctic Management Areas IV,
V, and VI (the principal regions of illegal
Soviet whaling on this species, south of
Australia and western Oceania). Where
possible, we summarize legal and illegal
Soviet catches by year, Management Area,
and factory fleet, and also include information on takes by other nations. Soviet
humpback catches between 1947 and 1973
totaled 48,702 and break down as follows:
649 (Area I), 1,412 (Area II), 921 (Area
III), 8,779 (Area IV), 22,569 (Area V), and
7,195 (Area VI), with 7,177 catches not
currently assignable to area.
In all, at least 72,542 humpback whales
were killed by all operations (Soviet plus
other nations) after World War II in Areas
IV (27,201), V (38,146), and VI (7,195).
More than one-third of these (25,474
whales, of which 25,192 came from Areas
V and VI) were taken in just two seasons,
1959–60 and 1960–61. The impact of
these takes, and of those from Area IV in
the late 1950’s, is evident in the sometimes
dramatic declines in catches at shore stations in Australia, New Zealand, and at
Norfolk Island.
When compared to recent estimates of
abundance and initial population size, the
large removals from Areas IV and V indicate that the populations in these regions
remain well below pre-exploitation levels
despite reported strong growth rates off
eastern and western Australia. Populations in many areas of Oceania continue to
be small, indicating that the catches from
Area VI and eastern Area V had long-term
impacts on recovery.
Introduction
71(1)
39
Figure 1.— Southern Hemisphere baleen whale management areas. Source: IWC, 1980: p. 582.
cific) of most of these catches have been
revealed, many discrepancies and gaps
have remained which have complicated
efforts to determine the potential impact
of these takes on the stocks concerned.
Here, we detail illegal Soviet catches
of humpback whales in the Antarctic
region during 1947– 73, and we attempt
to assign these catches to each of the
six management areas (termed Areas
I–VI) defined by the IWC (IWC, 1980
and Fig. 1). We also provide data on
humpback whale catches by factory
fleet, as well as total catches (by the
U.S.S.R. and other nations) for Areas
IV, V, and VI.
Data Sources
From 1947 to 1973, Soviet catches of
humpback whales were made by four
floating factory fleets, which operated at
various times during the period: Slava
(1946–66), Sovetskaya Ukraina (1959–
73), Yuri Dolgorukiy (1960–1973), and
Sovetskaya Rossiya (1961–73). The
total catch during the entire period was
48,702 humpbacks; only 2,710 of these
catches were reported to the IWC.
Here and previously, the first source
for these catch records was Soviet
Antarctic Whaling Data (1947–1972)
(Yablokov, 1995, commonly referred to
by the color of its cover as “the green
40
volume”). This provides details of reported vs. true catch data for each of the
four floating factory fleets; in many but
not all cases these catches are broken
down by Area. However, there are two
inconsistencies in this record:
1)
If Area totals for each whaling
season and factory ship are summed
from the individual tables, they
sometimes do not agree with the
summary totals given for each factory ship for the entire period of operation. Sometimes this is because
catches which were not assigned to
Area are omitted from the summary
table’s totals; sometimes it appears
to be a simple mathematical error.
2) Some data shown in catch summaries provided by Zemsky et al.
(1995, 1996) are not included in the
green volume, and (less often) the
other way around.
The tables presented in this paper
make the assumption that the data given
in Zemsky et al. (1995, 1996) are more
complete than those in the green volume,
and therefore they represent a more accurate record; the only exceptions are a
few places where Zemsky et al. (1995,
1996) have gaps that the green volume
fills (e.g. the 1967–68 season for S.
Ukraina). Thus, the tables represent
a combination of information derived
from both sources.
The data derived from the green
volume for the Slava and Yuri Dolgorukiy needed no correction (i.e. the
numbers were consistent between the
Zemsky papers and the green volume).
The S. Ukraina green volume data required some minor adjustments. The S.
Rossiya data in the green volume were
the most problematic. Data for non
Soviet whaling operations were taken
from summaries in various published
sources, primarily Chittleborough
(1965).
The 1959–60 and 1960–61
Antarctic Seasons
Of the 48,702 humpback whales
caught by the U.S.S.R., more than half
were killed in two Antarctic whaling
seasons: 1959–60 and 1960–61. The
Area breakdowns for Slava and S.
Ukraina in 1959–60 were based upon
original catch records and knowledge
of where the fleets were operating (reported in less detail by Mikhalev, 2000).
Operations in that season occurred
between December and March in Area
V, with an incursion into Area VI in the
second half of March; because the exact
number of whales taken in Area VI is
Marine Fisheries Review
not known, March catch totals for both
fleets have been divided evenly between
V and VI.
The Area breakdowns for Slava and
S. Ukraina for 1960–61 were taken
from Mikhalev (2004) and Zemsky
et al. (1996), which together provide
information on where the two fleets
(notably the latter) were operating each
month, together with catch totals for
each month. In general terms, the fleets
were in Area IV in November, Area
V in December–January, and Area VI
in February–March; but because there
were a few days that did not quite fit
this pattern, some catches (though not
a lot) may have been assigned by us to
the wrong Area.
Catch Summary
True Soviet whaling catches are reported by factory ship, year, and Area
in a series of tables below, as follows:
Slava (Table 1), Sovetskaya Ukraina
(Table 2), Yuri Dolgorukiy (Table 3),
Sovetskaya Rossiya (Table 4), all fleets
combined, by Area (Table 5), by season
and factory fleet (Table 6). Non Soviet
catches of humpback whales in the same
period came primarily from Areas IV
and V; these are summarized in Tables
7 and 8, respectively.
Table 9 gives total catches for the
entire period: 27,201 (Area IV), 38,146
(Area V), and 7,195 (Area VI), with
7,177 catches not assignable to an area.
Including both Soviet and non Soviet
catches, at least 72,542 humpback
whales were killed in Areas IV, V, and
VI during the post-war period.
Discussion
Following World War II, almost
half the total of illegal whaling in the
Southern Hemisphere by the U.S.S.R.
were of humpback whales, which was
probably the most abundant species
in the areas in which the Soviet fleets
were working, and thus provided
the fastest way to meet the production targets in the industrial plan that
governed everything. However, blue
whales, sperm whales, sei whales,
Bryde’s whales, minke whales, and
right whales were also killed in large
numbers
71(1)
Table 1.— Number of humpback whales killed by the Slava, by area and season, from 1946–47 to 1965–66. All
catches from 1957–58 and 1958–59 have been assigned to Area IV, although it is likely that up to about 300 of these
animals were taken in locations to the west of this region while in transit (Mikhalev, personal recollection). The
1959–60 catches are known to have come largely from Area V, with some others from western Area VI (Mikhalev,
2000); therefore, while the exact numbers per Area are not known, the total has been apportioned on this basis. The
Area totals for 1960–61 (when Slava and Sovetskaya Ukraina were operating generally together) are estimated from
information about fleet movements given in Mikhalev (2004); while those figures are not entirely accurate because
of the grouping of some catches across the boundary of Areas V and VI, they are unlikely to be significantly in
error.
Year
1946–47 to 1956–57
1957–58
1958–59
1959–60
1960–61
1961–62
1962–63
1963–64
1964–65
1965–66
Total
Area I
Area II
Area III
Area IV
Area V
Area VI
Unknown
Total
3,564
3,564
2,235
4,039
5,425
4,046
1,646
746
97
0
81
2,235
4,039
6
6
9
16
19
259
453
4,930
2,415
216
168
495
1,612
1,156
103
97
12
0
13
61
7
38
7,066
7,736
3,366
3,661
21,879
Table 2.—Number of humpback whales killed by the Sovetskaya Ukraina, by area and season, 1959–60 to 1967–68.
Year
1959–60
1960–61
1961–62
1962–63
1963–64
1964–65
1965–66
1966–67
1967–68
1968–69
1969–70
1970–71
1971–72
1972–73
Total
Area I
Area II
Area III
Area IV
42
Area V
Area VI
6,848
3,941
672
1,590
Unknown
1
7,520
5,573
1,078
667
299
3
710
487
181
0
0
0
0
1
2,640
16,519
1,078
667
4
11
24
260
51
18
3
710
238
180
181
238
4
11
117
11,067
2,442
Total
Table 3.—Number of humpback whales killed by the Yuri Dolgorukiy, by area and season, from 1960–61 to 1972–73.
Year
Area I
1960–61
1961–62
1962–63
1963–64
1964–65
1965–66
1966–67
1967–68
1968–69
1969–70
1970–71
1971–72
1972–73
2
191
Total
196
Area II
5
2
774
90
535
Area III
Area IV
33
17
75
27
67
265
266
84
181
108
868
118
18
834
1,301
Area V
Area VI
2,274
267
415
512
2,541
927
Unknown
2,910
1,095
945
145
85
1,039
360
623
0
0
0
3
2
4
4
3
2
1,408
Although the true catch figures have
been known for some time, assigning
these catches to Management Area has
in many cases proved difficult. Contradictions in published information and
lack of availability of detailed catch
positions has introduced uncertainty
Total
0
7,207
into efforts to assess the impact of
these catches on the various stocks
concerned. Although more detailed
information may become available
from previously unsearched archives
in the former Soviet Union, the summaries given here are the most accurate
41
Table 4.— Number of humpback whales killed by the Sovetskaya Rossiya, by area and season, from 1961–62 to
1972–73. The difference between the data given in the green volume and the total number reported by Zemsky et al.
(1996) are assigned to unknown area. The overall total of 3,097 agrees with that in Zemsky et al. (1996).
Year
Area I
1961–62
1962–63
1963–64
1964–65
1965–66
1966–67
1967–68
1968–69
1969–70
1970–71
1971–72
1972–73
203
Total
203
Area II
Area III
0
Area IV
Area V
Area VI
Unknown
404
Total
3
9
1,069
34
85
56
4
61
1
103
42
85
6
56
20
2
2
1,688
573
150
146
223
188
125
2
0
0
0
2
38
295
1,225
460
876
3,097
573
27
29
223
Table 5.— Combined humpback whale catch totals by area and year for all four Soviet factory fleets, 1946–73. The
3,564 unassigned catches from 1946–47 to 1956–57 seasons were all taken by the Slava.
Year
Area I
1946–47 to 1956–57
1957–58
1958–59
1959–60
1960–61
1961–62
1962–63
1963–64
1964–65
1965–66
1966–67
1967–68
1968–69
1969–70
1970–71
1971–72
1972–73
Total
Area II
Area III
2
400
6
5
2
4
774
90
535
238
46–47
47–48
48–49
49–50
50–51
51–52
52–53
53–54
54–55
55–56
56–57
57–58
58–59
59–60
60–61
61–62
62–63
63–64
64–65
65–66
66–67
67–68
68–69
69–70
70–71
71–72
72–73
33
29
91
72
67
278
266
85
242
376
1,321
227
74
61
158
46
11,778
8,630
1,552
168
264
61
7
103
6
1,167
3,617
2,072
103
921
8,779
22,569
7,195
Total
42
81
21,879
180
56
2
1,412
S. Ukraina Yuri D.
S. Rossiya
1
112
511
945
599
311
213
361
236
275
2,235
4,039
5,425
4,046
1,646
746
97
Area VI
Unknown
Total
3,564
3
3,564
2,235
4,039
12,945
12,529
5,507
2,931
691
234
2,053
1,035
929
2
0
0
3
5
7,177
48,702
1,078
1,240
124
32
933
201
2
3
649
Slava
Area V
2,235
4,039
Table 6.—Southern Hemisphere humpback whale
catches for all four Soviet floating factories, 1946–73.
Source: Zemsky et al. (1995, 1996), except for 1967–68
S. Ukraina data, which come from the green volume.
Season
Area IV
Total
7,520
5,573
1,078
667
299
3
710
487
181
2,910
1,095
945
145
85
1,039
360
623
1
3
2
2
1
0
112
511
945
599
311
213
361
236
275
2,235
4,039
12,945
12,529
5,507
2,931
691
234
2,053
1,035
929
2
0
0
3
5
16,519
7,207
3,097
48,702
1,688
573
150
146
223
188
125
2
accounting available to date, and the
reported totals are unlikely to be significantly in error.
The large number of humpbacks
killed by the U.S.S.R. in Areas IV and
V from about 1957 to 1961 precipitated
major declines in catches at shore stations in Australia and New Zealand,
notably those reliant on whales from
Area V. More than 6,000 whales were
removed from Area IV in 1957–58
and 1958–59 by the Slava fleet, and
this was followed by a notable decline in catches at the two western
Australian stations of Carnarvon and
Albany, which in 1959 took only 700
humpbacks from an assigned quota of
1,175 (Table 7).
More dramatic was the situation
in Area V following the huge Soviet
catches in 1959–60 and 1960–61 (a
total of 25,474 whales, of which about
20,630 came from Area V). In 1961,
the eastern Australian stations of Tangalooma and Byron Bay failed for the
first time to reach their catch quota, and
the fishery collapsed the following year
(Table 8). The decline was even more
apparent to the east at the stations in
New Zealand, where the catch dropped
from 361 whales in 1960 to 80 (1961)
and then 32 (1962). Similarly, in 1962
the station at Norfolk Island caught
only 4 whales from a quota of 170.
The total post-war catches by all nations from Areas IV and V (27,201 and
38,146 humpbacks, respectively) were
very large. If one compares these figures
to current estimates of abundance and
initial population size (IWC, 2006),
it is apparent that the current sizes of
these populations remain well below
their pre-exploitation levels despite
reported strong growth rates in some
areas. Jackson et al. (2008) explored
this issue using a two-stock Bayesian
density-dependent logistic population
model. Their median posterior estimate
of carrying capacity for eastern Australia (broadly equivalent to Area V) was
26,383–31,400, with a median recovery
estimate in 2008 of 27–31% of initial
population size.
The situation with Area VI (total
known catch 7,195 whales) is less
clear than for Areas IV and V. Median
posterior estimate of carrying capacity
for Oceania of Jackson et al. (2008)
was 16,022–22,957, with a median
recovery estimate of 20–25% of initial
population size. This estimate, together
with the relatively low abundance
of humpback whales observed in
many parts of this region today (New
Zealand, New Caledonia, the Cook
Islands, Fiji, Tonga, American Samoa,
and French Polynesia) suggests a slow
recovery from the large-scale overexploitation perpetrated by the U.S.S.R.
This situation has prompted recent
concern over the status of humpback
whales in Oceania, and has led to that
sub-population being categorized as
“endangered” by the IUCN (Childerhouse et al., 2008).
Acknowledgments
We thank Cherry Allison at IWC for
help clarifying whale catch data.
Marine Fisheries Review
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71(1)
Table 7.— Other (non Soviet) catches of humpback whales from Area IV, 1949–62. Point Cloates, Carnarvon, and
Albany are all on the west coast of Australia. Source: Chittleborough (1965: Table 1).
Point Cloates
Year
Quota
1949
1950
1951
1952
1953
1954
1955
1956
1957
1958
1959
1960
1961
1962
Total
Carnarvon
Catch
Quota
600
190
600
348
600
574
600
536
603
603
600
600
500
500
Transferred1
600
650
600
600
600
500
1,000
1,000
1,000
1,000
750
475
540
Albany
Catch
Quota
40
650
600
600
600
500
1,000
1,018
885
541
440
475
503
50
100
120
126
120
120
120
175
120
105
100
Catch
Antarctic
(pelagic)
Total
51
100
120
126
119
102
82
159
105
105
40
0
779
1,112
1,127
193
258
28
832
0
0
1,413
66
4
56
190
1,167
2,336
2,314
1,496
1,578
1,154
1,951
1,120
967
2,113
611
584
599
5,868
18,180
West coast of Australia: 12,312
1Quotas
and catches transferred to Carnarvon.
Table 8.— Other (non Soviet) catches of humpback whales from Area V, 1949–62. Tangalooma (Queensland), and
Byron Bay (New South Wales) are both in eastern Australia. Source: Chittleborough (1965: Table 2).
Tangalooma
Year
Quota
1949
1950
1951
1952
1953
1954
1955
1956
1957
1958
1959
1960
1961
1962
600
700
600
600
600
600
600
660
660
660
600
Catch
600
700
598
600
600
600
600
660
660
591
68
Byron Bay
Quota
Catch
120
120
120
121
120
150
150
150
150
120
120
120
121
120
150
150
140
105
Norfolk Island
Quota
Catch
New
Zealand
Antarctic
(pelagic)
Total
150
120
120
150
170
170
4
141
79
111
122
109
180
112
143
184
183
318
361
80
32
0
903
162
146
504
0
1,097
194
0
0
885
931
293
0
141
982
273
868
1,313
898
1,929
1,207
1,025
1,023
2,163
2,272
1,274
209
2,155
5,115
15,577
150
120
120
150
170
170
170
Total Eastern Australia: 8,307
Table 9.— Known total post-war catches (U.S.S.R. and other nations) of humpback whales from Areas IV, V, and VI,
and migratory corridors directly north of these areas (e.g. Australia and New Zealand). There were an additional
7,177 Soviet catches that were not assignable to an Area.
Year/Source
Area IV
Area V
Area VI
Total
U.S.S.R., 1959–60
U.S.S.R., 1960–61
Other U.S.S.R., 1949–73
Australia–NZ, 1949–62
242
8,779
18,180
11,778
8,630
2,161
15,577
1,167
3,617
2,411
12,945
12,489
13,351
33,757
Total
27,201
38,146
7,195
72,542
Tormosov, and A. A. Berzin. 1998. Data on
Soviet whaling in the Antarctic in 1947–1972
(population aspects). Russ. J. Ecol. 29:38–42.
Zemsky, V. A., A. A. Berzin, Y. A. Mikhalev,
and D. D. Tormosov. 1995. Soviet Antarctic
pelagic whaling after WWII: review of actual
catch data. Rep. Int. Whal. Comm. 45:131–
135.
________ , Y. Mikhalev, and A. A. Berzin. 1996.
Supplementary information about Soviet
whaling in the Southern Hemisphere. Rep.
Int. Whal. Comm. 46:131–138.
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