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Outline of the New Scientific Whale Research Program in the Antarctic Ocean (NEWREP-A)

What is NEWREP-A?   •Objectives   •Research area/Sample numbers/Vessels Used   •Further reading

What is NEWREP-A?

Following the ICJ judgment, the Government of Japan decided to discontinue JARPAII from 2014/2015 and based on the ICRW Article 8, paragraph 1, resolved to formulate the “New Scientific Whale Research Program in the Antarctic Ocean (NEWREP-A) Research Plan”. The NEWREP-A research plan was submitted to the Scientific Committee of the IWC in November 2014, and reviewed by an Expert Panel at a review meeting held in February 2015. The IWC Scientific Committee discussion took place in May to June 2015.

The Antarctic Ocean has a unique marine ecosystem and has the potential to be a place of abundant biological resources that can be used sustainably for food and other purposes. In recent years, it is a well-known fact that changes in the marine environment caused by the impact of significant climate change in the Antarctic are affecting the global environment as a whole.

In order to preserve whale resources while sustainably using them and to understand and predict the effects of climate change, it is important to understand the marine ecosystem and its dynamics in the Antarctic region through the collection, accumulation and analysis of scientific information. NEWREP-A was planned under such a background.


NEWREP-A has two main research objectives.

I. Improvements in the precision of biological and ecological information for the application of the Revised Management Procedure (RMP) to the Antarctic minke whales.

II. Investigation of the structure and dynamics of the Antarctic marine ecosystem through building ecosystem models.

These objectives are related to the sustainable use and conservation of marine biological resources, especially whale stocks, in the Antarctic. The RMP is a safe and rigorously tested mechanism to calculate commercial quotas for baleen whales developed to enable the IWC Scientific Committee to provide management advice to the Commission. The ecosystem model is not only used for elucidating and understanding the structure and dynamics of the Antarctic marine ecosystem, but is also useful and important for management and conservation. With respect to the single-species assessment method and the prediction ability of management based thereon, in recent years there is a growing sense of disappointment and is the main driving force that led to the development of the ecosystem-based (multispecies) method.

The NEWREP-A plan was formulated based on two research objectives that adequately reflect the needs of the research required by many international organizations currently undertaking activities that are responsible for the management and conservation of marine living resources. In addition, JARPAII's research objectives were integrated into NEWREP-A two main objectives in a clear and rational manner. For example, elucidation of the stock structure of Antarctic minke whales was one of the JARPAII objectives. Because this information is essential for RMP, it is taken into the first main research purpose in NEWREP-A in a more rational form.

Main Objective I consists of the following sub-objectives:

I (i): Abundance estimates for Antarctic minke whales taking into account of g(0) and additional variance.

I (ii): Improvement of precision of biological and ecological parameters.

I (iii): Refinement of stock structure hypotheses of Antarctic minke whale in Areas III-VI for the implementation of the RMP.

I (iv): Specification of the RMP/IST (Implementation Simulation Trials) for the Antarctic minke whales.

Main Objective II consists of the following sub-objectives:

II (i): Ecological research (krill abundance estimation and oceanographic observation).

II (ii): Abundance estimate of some cetacean species as input data for ecosystem modeling.

II (iii): Estimation of prey consumption by the Antarctic minke whale and its nutritional condition.

II (iv): Ecosystem modeling (Spatial interaction among baleen whales and consideration of predators-prey system and allometric reasoning).

Each of the main objectives has several sub-objectives. (For each research objective and subordinate objectives, see the Research Plan for New Scientific Whale Research Program in the Antarctic Ocean (NEWREP-A)).

Research area/Sample numbers/Vessels Used

The number of planned samples is 333 Antarctic minke whales.

The NEWREP-A survey area comprises IWC management Areas III to VI. JARPAII did not include the western portion of Area III or the eastern portion of Area VI, but they were newly included in accordance with the JARPAII Review's recommendation (IWC, 2015a). The expansion of the research area was conducted taking into account past scientific information related to stocks in the extended marine area and the possibility of contributing to the RMP by newly obtained specimens. The expanded survey area is also related to the Main Objective II, and the data obtained will be also used for the purpose of building ecosystem models.

NEWREP-A research area

Year Research area Sample No. Vessels used
2015/16 The waters, including the Ross Sea, south of 60 degrees to the Antarctic Continent between 115 degrees east longitude to 170 west longitude. 333 Nisshin Maru, Yushin Maru, Yushin Maru No. 2, Yushin Maru No. 3
2016/17 The waters south of 60 degrees between 45 degrees east longitude to 165 east longitude. 333 Nisshin Maru, Yushin Maru, Yushin Maru No. 2, Yushin Maru No. 3, Kaiyo Maru No. 7

Further reading

Research plan

Publications list

Scientific contribution

Japan Fisheries Agency - Whaling Affairs: New Scientific Whale Research Program in the Antarctic Ocean (NEWREP-A)

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