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History and purpose

The IWC was set up under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling which was signed in Washington DC on 2nd December 1946. The preamble to the Convention states that its purpose is to provide for the proper conservation of whale stocks and thus make possible the orderly development of the whaling industry.  

To read the text of the Convention, click here

An integral part of the Convention is its legally binding 'Schedule.'  The Schedule sets out specific measures that the IWC has collectively decided are necessary in order to regulate whaling and conserve whale stocks. 

These measures include catch limits (which may be zero as it the case for commercial whaling) by species and area, designating specified areas as whale sanctuaries, protection of calves and females accompanied by calves, and restrictions on hunting methods. Unlike the Convention, the Schedule can be amended and updated when the Commission meets (a change requires at least three quarters majority agreement).  There are a number of reasons why changes to the Schedule may be necessary.  These include new information from the Scientific Committee, and variations in the requirements of aboriginal subsistence whalers. 

To read the text of the Schedule, click here

The Commission also co-ordinates and, in several cases, funds conservation work on many species of cetacean. In addition to research, this includes building an international entanglement response capacity, working to prevent ship strikes, and establishment of Conservation Management Plans for key species and populations.  The Commission has also adopted a Strategic Plan for Whalewatching to facilitate the further development of this activity in a way which is responsible and consistent with international best practice.

The Commission undertakes extensive study and research on cetacean populations, develops and maintains scientific databases, and publishes its own peer reviewed scientific journal, the Journal of Cetacean Research and Management. 

IWC Secretaries
Dr. Simon Brockington June 2010 - Present
Dr. Nicky Grandy 2000 - 2010
Dr. Ray Gambell 1976 - 2000
Mr. Reg Stacey  1967 - 1976
Mr. L. Goldthorpe (Acting)  1966
Mr. R.S. Wimpenny 1958 - 1965
Mr. A.T.A. Dobson 1949 - 1957