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The IWC recognises three different types of whaling.  The first of these is aboriginal subsistence whaling to support the needs of indigenous communities.  This is regulated by the IWC which sets catch limits every six years. 

The second type of whaling is commercial.  This is also regulated by the IWC but has been subject to a pause or 'moratorium' since 1986.  Aside from non-IWC member countries, the only commercial whaling conducted at present is by a small number of countries exercising an objection or reservation to the moratorium.  Although these countries share catch and related data with the Commission and its Scientific Committee, this whaling is not regulated by the IWC .

The third category is special permit (or scientific) whaling.  International law on whaling separates this  from IWC-regulated whaling.  Countries are asked to submit special permit research proposals to the IWC for scientific scrutiny, but the permits are issued by individual countries, and the role of the IWC is advisory only.

More information on each of these types of whaling, including the levels of recent catches, can be found on the pages below.