International Whaling Commission

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The International Whaling Commission (IWC) is an international body set up by the terms of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW),[1] which was signed in Washington, D.C. on 2 December 1946 to "provide for the proper conservation of whale stocks and thus make possible the orderly development of the whaling industry".[2]

Since the late 1970s, however, the IWC has become dominated by governments who appear to be largely opposed to the practice of commercial whaling.[citation needed] The result of this is most evident in the IWC's adoption of a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986, which has as yet not been lifted, and in the 1994 creation of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.[3]

The role of the IWC has thus come under strain, with an anti-whaling faction pushing for the indefinite continuation of the moratorium and the creation of more sanctuaries and a pro-whaling faction pushing for the end of the moratorium and the return of annual quotas.[citation needed]

The main duty of the IWC is to keep under review and revise as necessary the measures laid down in the Schedule to the Convention which govern the conduct of whaling throughout the world. These measures, among other things, provide for the complete protection of certain species; designate specified areas as whale sanctuaries; set limits on the numbers and size of whales which may be taken; prescribe open and closed seasons and areas for whaling; and prohibit the capture of suckling calves and female whales accompanied by calves. The compilation of catch reports and other statistical and biological records is also required.

In addition, the Commission encourages, co-ordinates and funds whale research, publishes the results of scientific research and promotes studies into related matters such as the humaneness of the killing operations.


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