The International Whaling Commission (iwc)

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) is the global body charged with the conservation of whales and the management of whaling. It was set up to provide for the proper conservation of whale stocks and thus make possible the orderly development of the whaling industry. Uncertainty over whale numbers led to the introduction of a ‘moratorium’ on commercial whaling in 1986. This remains in place although the Commission continues to set catch limits for aboriginal subsistence whaling.
  • The main duty of the IWC is to keep under review and revise as necessary the measures laid down in the Schedule to the Convention which govern the conduct of whaling throughout the world. These measures, among other things, provide for the complete protection of certain species; designate specified areas as whale sanctuaries; set limits on the numbers and size of whales which may be taken; prescribe open and closed seasons and areas for whaling; and prohibit the capture of suckling calves and female whales accompanied by calves.
  • The IWC currently has 89 member governments from countries all over the world. India is a member state. All members are signatories to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling.
  • International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling is an international environmental agreement which governs the commercial, scientific, and aboriginal subsistence whaling practices. This Convention is the legal framework which established the IWC in 1946.
  • Today, the Commission also works to understand and address a wide range of non-whaling threats to cetaceans including entanglement, ship strike, marine debris, climate change and other environmental concerns.
  • In 1994, it created the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary surrounding the continent of Antarctica. Here, the IWC has banned all types of commercial whaling.
  • Only two such sanctuaries have been designated by IWC till date. Another isIndian Ocean Whale Sanctuary by the tiny island nation of the Seychelles.

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