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The Conservation Committee considers a wide range of cetacean conservation issues and collaborates closely with the Scientific Committee to understand and address a range of threats to whales and their habitats. 

The Conservation Committee Strategic Plan sets out a long-term vision for healthy and well-managed populations and recovered cetacean populations worldwide. The Plan identifies priority threats to cetaceans, priority actions, measures of success, key partnerships and resourcing.  It is accompanied by a Work Plan, a living document that can be adapted as circumstances evolve. 

The varied work programme currently includes:

  • a Bycatch Mitigation Initiative.  This is a new work programme, agreed at the 2016 meeting.  It will include formation of an expert panel and appointment of a coordinator.
  • a strategy to provide international advice and support to the fast-growing whale watching industry, including development of an online Whale Watching Handbook.
  • development and management of Conservation Management Plans, flexible blueprints for effective coordination of conservation work between local, national, regional and international stakeholders.
  • a joint programme with the Scientific Committee to consider the impact of marine debris on cetaceans.
  • a Ship Strikes Strategy, working with other international and trade organisations to understand and minimise the threat of collisions between whales and vessels.
  • work to build partnerships with other inter-governmental and regional organisations, in order to share knowledge, identify synergies and maximise effectiveness.
  • development of an integrated Conservation Database collating Voluntary Conservation Reports submitted by member governments - currently undergoing testing. 

In 2022 the Commission endorsed a new intersessional group to develop recommendations for understanding and overcoming challenges and making conservation efforts more effective.  Key aims include an improved understanding of the barriers to conservation progress, increased involvement of local communities and determining the most effective ways to work alongside other conservation bodies.

A Voluntary Conservation Fund operates to support the work of the Conservation Committee.  Seven issues have been identified as priority areas for support, and a dedicated Steering Group assess funding requests according to these priorities.  Contributions to this fund are welcome from member governments, international organisations and other appropriate donors.  You can find out more about the fund here.

Further Reading

  • To read the Strategic Plan for the Conservation Committee click here.
  • To read the Work Plan of the Conservation Committee click here.
  • To read the Working Methods of the Conservation Committee click here.
  • To read the most recent report of the Conservation Committee click here.
  • To read about the Voluntary Fund for Conservation click here.
  • To read more about the Bycatch Mitigation Initiative click here.
  • To read more about the IWC's work on whale watching click here.
  • To read more about Conservation Management Plans click here.
  • To read more about marine debris click here.
  • To read more about ship strikes click here.