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Two Sanctuaries are currently designated by the International Whaling Commission, both of which prohibit commercial whaling. 

The first of these, the Indian Ocean Sanctuary, was established in 1979 and covers the whole of the Indian Ocean south to 55°S. The second was adopted in 1994 and covers the waters of the Southern Ocean around Antarctica.  The precise co-ordinates are recorded in the Schedule at paragraphs 7.(a) and 7.(b).  In 2018 the Commission accepted a management plan for the Southern Ocean Sanctuary developed by the Scientific and Conservation Committees. The plan sets out the objectives for the Sanctuary and specifies scientific criteria for evaluating progress towards them. The Scientific Committee will document progress under these criteria at each regular meeting.  Scientific research facilitated by the IWC-Southern Ocean Research Partnership (IWC-SORP) will contribute to achieving the scientific objectives of the Southern Ocean Sanctuary.

An additional proposal for a Sanctuary in the South Atlantic Ocean has been repeatedly submitted to the Commission in recent years.  To date it has not achieved the three-quarters majority of votes needed to amend the Schedule and thus become designated by the IWC.