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The Voluntary Fund for Conservation was established in 2014 and reflects the diverse and growing range of conservation work undertaken by the IWC that is not covered by core funding. This voluntary fund supports the delivery of the priority actions and threats identified in the Conservation Committee’s Strategic Plan.


  • Conservation Management Plans;
  • whale sanctuaries and marine protected areas;
  • effective financing;
  • effective data collection and reporting
  • sustainable management of dolphin and whale watching;


  • ship strikes;
  • marine debris;
  • bycatch
  • anthropogenic sound;
  • chemical pollution;
  • climate change.

The Carole Carlson Memorial Fund for Whale Watching


In 2018, the Commission named the Voluntary Conservation funding stream for whale watching in honour of Carole Carlson, a long standing member of the IWC Scientific Committee who sadly lost her battle with cancer in 2017.  Carole pioneered collaboration between scientists, regulators and policy makers to share expertise and information, and help ensure the whale watching industry developed sustainably.

The Voluntary Fund for Conservation is overseen by a Steering Group using rigorous and transparent frameworks to evaluate and assess the eligibility of proposals. The Terms of Reference for the Steering Group are available here.

Contributions to the Conservation Fund are welcomed from member governments, international organisations and other appropriate donors., Third party donations are subject to scrutiny according to the Commission’s Guidelines on Acceptance of Funds. 

Donors are also welcome to specify a particular purpose for their contribution, in accordance with the agreed priority action categories listed above. Transparency is also important and all member governments and observers are notified when a contribution is received.

If you are interested in donating to the Voluntary Conservation Fund please refer to the Guidelines on Acceptance of Funds and contact the IWC at secretariat@iwc.int.

Allocation of funds

Projects allocated funding are primarily those identified as priorities by the Conservation Committee and its Standing Working Groups, and subsequently endorsed by the Commission. If sufficient funding is available, a call for costed proposals may be made on an irregular basis.

Allocation Process for the Voluntary Conservation Fund


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To read about the Conservation Committee of the IWC click here.