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Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling Sub-committee

Chair: Bruno Mainini, Switzerland

Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling (ASW) has always been recognised as different to commercial whaling.  It is handled separately, by a dedicated ASW Sub-committee which deals with the regulation and management of this type of whaling. 

One important aspect of the ASW Sub-committee work is to receive advice from the Scientific Committee on whether requests for hunting by member governments are sustainable.  To provide this advice, the Scientific Committee uses advanced computer modelling together with data collected on abundance and population structure to develop precautionary ways to assess sustainable levels for each hunt.  

The ASW Sub-committee also works with the hunters themselves and with their government representatives.  As part of the management process, the relevant government provides documentation identifying the cultural and subsistence need for the hunt.  Interpretation of these 'need statements' within the Commission has sometimes proved controversial, partly because each hunt is unique and different factors are relevant. 

Aboriginal catch quotas (known as strike limits) are set in six year blocks.  The current quotas will be reviewed at the IWC Commission Meeting in 2018.  In recognition of the importance and complexity of the issue, the ASW Sub-committee has established an additional Working Group (the Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling Working Group).  Its role is to prepare for the 2018 review by providing advice at the 2016 Commission Meeting on ways to improve consideration of ASW quotas.  The group will develop improved ways to present information on need, and a clear process for reviewing need statements to help improve understanding, clarify decision-making and reduce controversy.

To read the most recent report of the ASW Sub-committee click here.

To read more about Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling click here.

To read about the Voluntary Fund for Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling click here.