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Commercial Whaling

The IWC is responsible for setting catch limits for commercial whaling (with the exception of catches set by countries under objection or reservation to the current moratorium - see below).  The Commission receives advice on sustainability from its Scientific Committee and this assists it in deciding catch limits, which are  then set out in a document called the Schedule to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (1946).

In 1982 the IWC decided that there should be a pause in commercial whaling on all whale species and populations (known as 'whale stocks') from the 1985/1986 season onwards.  This pause is often referred to as the commercial whaling moratorium, and it remains in place today. 

Commercial Whaling Today

Norway and Iceland take whales commercially at present, either under objection to the moratorium decision, or under reservation to it.  These countries establish their own catch limits but must provide information on their catches and associated scientific data to the Commission.  The Russian Federation has also registered an objection to the moratorium decision but does not exercise it.  The moratorium is binding on all other members of the IWC. 

Norway takes North Atlantic common minke whales within its Exclusive Economic Zone, and Iceland takes North Atlantic common minke whales and also North Atlantic fin whales, again within its Exclusive Economic Zone.

A list of commercial catches taken by all nations since the establishment of the moratorium can be accessed here