Change text size
Choose your language:

History and purpose

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

The main duty of the IWC is to keep under review and revise as necessary the measures laid down in the Schedule to the Convention which govern the conduct of whaling throughout the world (Click HERE to view the full text). These measures, among other things, provide for the complete protection of certain species; designate specified areas as whale sanctuaries; set limits on the numbers and size of whales which may be taken; prescribe open and closed seasons and areas for whaling; and prohibit the capture of suckling calves and female whales accompanied by calves. The compilation of catch reports and other statistical and biological records is also required.

In addition, the Commission co-ordinates and funds conservation work on many species of cetaceans.  This includes work to reduce the frequency of ship strikes, to co-ordinate disentanglement events and to establish Conservation Management Plans for key species and populations.  Recently, the Commission has adopted a Strategic Plan for Whalewatching so as 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 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