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The Secretariat is tasked with implementing the Commission's decisions, overseeing and/or managing work programmes, supporting the Bureau, the 6 main committees and 49 sub-groups, and providing all corporate services. There are currently 19 full time equivalent employees led by the Executive Secretary, Ms. Martha Rojas Urrego. Martha is the Administrative and Accounting Officer for the Commission and responsible for management of the Secretariat.

Secretariat roles cover all aspects of IWC work and staff range from scientists, statisticians and technical experts in cetacean entanglement, bycatch and stranding to specialists in programme development, finance and IT. The Secretariat also organises and supports meetings of the Commission’s 88 member countries, observers and committees, most notably the Scientific Committee which has met annually since 1955.

Specific tasks undertaken by the Secretariat include but are not limited to:

  • implementing actions required by the Commission via Schedule Amendments and Resolutions;
  • facilitating the Commission’s wide-ranging intersessional work programme, monitoring and reporting on progress;
  • initiating and maintaining multi-disciplinary collaborations at intergovernmental, national, regional and local levels;
  • providing support and preparation for the Bureau membership, Chairs, Vice-chairs, and convenors; 
  • facilitating research as requested by the Commission on scientific, management and conservation issues;
  • collating data, developing and managing IWC databases including on cetacean catches, surveys, whale-killing methods, infractions, ship strikes, conservation reports and the IWC Database of Recommendations;
  • stock assessment work to support their management under Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling, including co-developing population models and related computer programmes, and running simulation trials;
  • dissemination/publication of data and collaborative work to facilitate scientific research;
  • leading and coordinating international mitigation and capacity building initiatives on cetacean entanglement, bycatch and strandings;
  • maintaining and updating the online Whale Watching Handbook
  • managing and publishing the Journal of Cetacean Research and Management and its annual Supplement;
  • developing and managing an online archive of IWC documents from 1946 to present day;
  • managing the Commission’s financial resources including research, meeting and voluntary funds, subject to both UK accounting standards (known as GAAP) and IWC fund guidelines, working within Commission-agreed budgets and supporting work to decrease costs wherever possible;
  • identifying fundraising opportunities, developing funding proposals and strategies and liaising with grant/funding organisations;
  • managing the biennial meetings of the Commission and meetings of all its subsidiary bodies;
  • developing and maintaining an IT architecture to support IWC archives, meetings and regular communications;
  • communication and outreach to Commissioners, Member Governments, stakeholder organisations, observers, the press and the public.

LIST OF IWC Secretaries

Ms. Martha Rojas Urrego

2023 -

Dr. Rebecca Lent

2018 - 2023

Dr. Simon Brockington                 

2010 - 2017

Dr. Nicky Grandy

2000 - 2010

Dr. Ray Gambell

1976 - 2000

Mr. Reg Stacey 

1967 - 1976

Mr. L. Goldthorpe (Acting) 


Mr. R.S. Wimpenny

1958 - 1965

Mr. A.T.A. Dobson

1949 - 1957