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The report of the IWC68 meeting is available now.  This was the first gathering of the Commission for four years, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  A combination of sub-committee and plenary sessions, the meeting was held over nine days and the Chair’s Report summarises the discussions and outcomes.     

The unprecedented length of the intersessional period created challenges for IWC committees, which had managed to maintain momentum and work virtually during the pandemic. The Conservation Committee highlighted progress in major work programmes including the Bycatch Mitigation Initiative and Conservation Management Plans.  The Scientific Committee took a new approach to tackle the daunting task of consolidating four long and technical annual reports into a short presentation of key developments and recommendations.  Their new approach and increased interaction with delegates was welcomed by the Commission and all four reports were endorsed.

Also endorsed was a Resolution on Marine Plastics.  Plastic pollution can impact cetaceans in different ways and the IWC has already undertaken work to understand and address the threat. The new Resolution highlights the transboundary nature of the threat and need for collaboration at international and multi-disciplinary levels. 

International and multi-disciplinary collaboration was a theme throughout the meeting.  The Commission endorsed formal co-operative agreements with several organisations.  New agreements with the Fisheries and Agriculture Organisation and the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission focused on bycatch, estimated to kill more than 300,000 cetaceans every year. 

The Commission also endorsed renewal of a long-term and successful partnership with the Center for Coastal Studies, building entanglement response capacity, and a new agreement to enhance collaboration with ATLAFCO, the intergovernmental organisation promoting fisheries co-operation between African states bordering the Atlantic.

Several key budgetary and administrative issues were also addressed.  The Commission acknowledged difficult financial circumstances, adopting a Budget Reform Strategy introducing best practices for financial management including balanced budgets, fully costed workplans and longer-term planning.  A balanced budget was adopted for the next biennium.  Changes were also made to the frequency, duration and structure of future meetings. 

The Commission agreed that its next meeting would begin with proposals to clarify the issue of quorum.  The absence of some governments from the room during an agenda item on the South Atlantic Sanctuary prevented a vote taking place.  Challenging discussions followed and resulted in Commission agreement to develop proposals to clarify the rules related to quorum and attendance, which will be taken as the first item on the agenda of the next meeting.

The next IWC meeting (IWC69) will take place in 2024 and the Commission welcomed an offer to host from the Government of Peru.

Read the Chair's Report of the 2022 meeting, IWC68.

Read the Chair’s Reports from previous IWC meetings.