Picture courtesy of Paula Olson, under permit from the Secretaria de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales, Mexico
3 Dec 2014
As the 2014/15 Volvo Ocean Yacht Race gets underway, the IWC is highlighting the measures that can be taken to avoid dangerous collisions between racing vessels and whales. Known as ship strikes, these collisions can be fatal for both crew members and whales. The scale of the problem is hard to assess because it’s often impossible to gather accurate information at the time of the strike, but experts believe the numbers are rising. This year, the Volvo Race has seen collaboration between the IWC, WWF and VOR in an awareness-raising exercise. Information about whales will be provided to competitors, organisers and spectators, spanning the 11 worldwide port stops of the 38,730Nm race.
The International Whaling Commission (IWC) is the global body charged with the conservation of whales and the management of whaling. The IWC currently has 88 member governments from countries all over the world. All members are signatories to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling. This Convention is the legal framework which established the IWC in 1946.
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. 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.
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