The International Whaling Commission is the global body charged with the conservation of whales and the management of whale hunting. It is set up under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling signed in 1946. The Commission has a current membership of 89 Governments from countries around the World.
In 1986 the Commission introduced zero catch limits for commercial whaling. This provision is still in place today, although the Commission continues to set catch limits for aboriginal subsistence whaling.
As well as keeping whale catch limits under review, the Commission works to promote the recovery of depleted whale populations by addressing a range of specific issues. These include ship strikes, entanglement events, environmental concerns and establishing protocols for whalewatching.
The pages on this website provide detailed information about the Commission, its meetings, decisions and its current work to conserve and manage whale populations throughout the world.
Reminder for newsletter signup
There are many stocks or populations of the thirteen species of 'great whales'.
Many have been depleted by over-exploitation, some seriously, both in recent times and in earlier centuries.
Fortunately, several of these are showing signs of increase since their protection.
A major new development is the IWC's involvement in whalewatching as a sustainable use of cetacean resources.
In 1993, the IWC invited Contracting Governments to undertake a preliminary assessment of the extent, and economic and scientific value, of whalewatching activities.
These reports on the value and potential of whalewatching were consolidated by the Secretariat and considered by a Working Group at the 1994 meeting.
As a result the IWC has reaffirmed its interest in the subject, encouraged some scientific work and adopted a series of objectives and principles for managing whalewatching proposed by the Scientific Committee.