Elliott A. Norse ("There Is No Justification for Whaling," Free for All, Dec. 26) attempts to rebut my earlier piece, but unfortunately, he builds his case on false information and distortions of fact.
Norse asserts that "the scientific committee of the International Whaling Commission has recommended a zero quota for North Pacific sperm whales, Japan finds the quota 'unacceptable.'" In fact, because of a dispute about the methodology of estimating the undeniably sizable population of sperm whales, the scientific committee "was unable to provide unequivocal advice to the Commission on stock size, classification, and catch limits for the western Pacific." The North Pacific catch limit was held in abeyance until a recommendation could be made by a special committee at the next meeting. What Japan did object to was the footnote attempting to totally prohibit the whaling concerned in the interim.
Norse errs further in suggesting that Japan's krill fishing in the Antarctic is endangering this food source for that region's whale species. IWC estimates show an excess of 2 billion tons of krill present in Antarctic waters. Japan currently catches 31,000 tons of the 200,000 tons caught annually. Another 40 million tons are estimated to be consumed by whales. So even with a slight increase in krill fishing, we feel there are absolutely no grounds for concern that this might endanger this abundant food supply for whales.
Finally, Norse charges that Japan's objection to the IWC's ban on "cruel" non-explosive harpoons is a "last-ditch rush to exploit the whale populations without incurring the expense needed to improve the technology." Japan has, in fact, been making serious efforts in the area by testing a prototype of an exploding harpoon. Apparently, Norse does not appreciate the difficulty in perfecting an exploding head that is sensitive enough to explode within one- fiftieth of a second of striking the small minke whale.
The goal of the Japanese whaler is to protect his livelihood by using the best scientific methods to control his catch so as not to strain the whale population. While Japan realizes that it is unlikely to make converts from those who are philosophically opposed to whaling, it only seems fair that the views of the Japanese people and an undistorted picture of this industry be examined on their own merits.