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The International Whaling Commission

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) is the global body charged with the conservation of whales and the management of whaling.  The IWC currently has 88 member governments from countries all over the world.  All members are signatories to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling.  This Convention is the legal framework which established the IWC in 1946. 

Uncertainty over whale numbers led to the introduction of a ‘moratorium’ on commercial whaling in 1986.  This remains in place although the Commission continues to set catch limits for aboriginal subsistence whaling.  Today, the Commission also works to understand and address a wide range of non-whaling threats to cetaceans including entanglement, ship strike, marine debris, climate change and other environmental concerns.  



New report highlights surprising gray whale telemetry results

16 Apr 2015

A research programme completed under the auspices of the IWC has enabled scientists to satellite tag and follow three gray whales on a 14,000 mile migration across the North Pacific.  The research is an important step in implementing actions under the IWC/IUCN Conservation Management Plan for gray whales in the western North Pacific which aims to understand and mitigate the threats facing the small (<200) feeding group found off Sakhalin Island, Russia; the telemetry work has stimulated a major re-appraisal of our understanding of the movements of these animals.  Several governments have recently signed a Memorandum of Co-operation for these whales.  


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