Whales, Whaling & the International Whaling Commission



Posted on 01 June 2008  | 
WWF’s goal is to ensure that viable populations of all cetacean species occupy their historical range, and fulfil their role in maintaining the integrity of ocean ecosystems. We work at a local level and across a broad range of international fora to address and reduce threats to cetaceans.

Download WWF's full Position Paper for the 2008 IWC Meeting. [pdf, 166 KB]

  • WWF’s goal is to ensure that viable populations of all cetacean species occupy their historical range, and fulfil their role in maintaining the integrity of ocean ecosystems. We work at a local level and across a broad range of international fora to address and reduce threats to cetaceans. In doing so, WWF acknowledges the widely varied cultural attitudes toward the conservation and management of whales. WWF opposes commercial whaling, now and until WWF is convinced that the governments of the world have brought whaling under international control, with a precautionary and conservation-based enforceable management and compliance system adhered to by the whaling nations.
  • In the more than 60 years since the International Convention on the Regulation of Whaling (which established the International Whaling Commission) was adopted, it has become impossible to separate the threats presented by commercial whaling from those of marine and noise pollution, commercial bycatch, overfishing, ship strikes, oil and gas development or climate change. It would be far preferable, and of greater potential conservation benefit to cetaceans, for the IWC to now embrace the internationally accepted principles of Ecosystem Based Management, and address all of the threats to cetacean populations in a broad, multilateral context. As such, WWF urges governments to make the IWC an effective international forum for the conservation of all cetaceans, particularly those that are endangered, and to work to minimise adverse human impacts from all human-caused threats. Achieving successes together to alleviate these threats will increase the trust between member governments, which has been lost over recent decades.
  • The IWC has an important contribution to make to the conservation of all cetaceans, but the current stalemate caused by the Contracting Governments’ differing views on commercial whaling is adding to the many threats faced by both the great whales and small cetaceans. WWF supports a resolution to the current stalemate in the IWC, and looks forward to working cooperatively with all governments and stakeholders with an interest in whales and whaling to find a common way forward to ensure a secure and sustainable future for the world’s whales. In particular, WWF continues to call on the Government of Japan to stop abusing the special whaling permit provision of the ICRW by conducting commercial whaling under the guise of research, above all in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
  • WWF continues to oppose the resumption in international trade in whale parts and products, and supports the retention on CITES Appendix I of all whale species and stocks protected from commercial whaling by the IWC.
  • WWF recognises the human need for aboriginal subsistence whaling where it is carried out by aboriginal, indigenous, or native peoples with long-standing, strong social or cultural ties to whaling; where products are for local consumption only; and with a precautionary management scheme in place to ensure such activities are sustainable and do not threaten whale populations.

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