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At its 1991 meeting, the IWC Scientific Committee, through its sub-committee on small cetaceans, undertook a major review of the status of stocks of small cetaceans that are subjected to significant directed and incidental takes. The review included takes of Globicephala macrorhynchus, the short-finned pilot whale, in Japanese waters and takes of G. melas, the long-finned pilot whale, in Faroese waters. While the Committee reported that "there is no detectable evidence that the stock size of pilot whales appearing in the Faroese area has been affected by the drive fishery", it has expressed concern since 1986 over the status of the stocks of short-finned pilot whales taken off Japan.
The first (and larger) section of this volume mainly concerns papers arising out of a field programme to examine catches of long-finned pilot whales taken in the Faroese fishery. The opening paper to the volume provides a general introduction to the field studies carried out between July 1986 and July 1988. A further twelve papers discuss the analyses of the resultant data, including external characteristics, age and growth parameters, genetic studies and social organisation, reproductive biology, feeding and energetics, pollution, and parasitology.
The final three papers in the volume concern the short-finned pilot whale in the North Pacific, two of them continuing Kasuya's major series of papers on exploitation and biology in Japanese waters, consolidating and expanding on earlier work.