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Infractions Sub-committee

Chair: Hild Ynnesdal, Norway

The Schedule of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling contains the rules that the IWC has decided are necessary to regulate whaling in a way that conserves whale stocks.  Any breaches, known as infractions, must be reported to the IWC and are discussed by its Infractions Sub-committee.

The measures are wide ranging.  Examples include: catch limits (which can be zero) by species and area; protection for mothers and calves; and hunting methods.  The Schedule also defines what catch data must be submitted to the IWC, such as lengths and sexes of any catch.  Since 1986 there has been a moratorium on commercial whaling which means the catch limit for all commercial whaling is zero.  The Schedule also contains catch limits and other regulations for aboriginal subsistence hunts.

Member countries are responsible for both investigating and reporting infractions that have occurred within their jurisdiction, and for administering penalties.  These may include financial penalties, confiscation of licences and/or gear, or imprisonment.

Whilst the circumstances of some infractions are straightforward, others are more difficult. Wider issues within the Commission can make it hard to reach agreement on whether an infraction has actually occurred.  Recent examples are catches which have taken place when the Commission has been unable to agree an aboriginal quota, and catches taken under a Special Permit which was subsequently judged to be illegal by the International Court of Justice. 

Infractions data are publicly available on the IWC website and in the biennial reports of the Infractions Sub- committee.

To read the latest report of the Infractions Sub-committee click here.

Infraction information is published in the annual/biennial reports of the IWC.  You can read them here.