International Whaling Commission glossary

What is a cetacean? What does SWG stand for? Check out the list below for a guide to the vocab used at the IWC

Cetaceans: A word used to collectively describe whales, dolphins and porpoises.

Impasse in the IWC: The current membership of the IWC is approximately evenly divided between whaling and non-whaling nations, resulting in a political deadlock or impasse, which makes it impossible to secure the ¾ majority of votes needed to make major changes. This impasse prevents the IWC from exerting any oversight over Japan, Norway, and Iceland, which continue to whale outside the purview of IWC.

IWC: The International Whaling Commission The IWC meets annually and adopts regulations on catch limits, whaling methods and protected areas, on the basis of a three-quarters majority vote. In recent years the IWC, recognizing new threats to whales, has moved towards a broader conservation agenda for whales which includes incidental catches in fishing gear (bycatch) and concerns about climate change.

Moratorium: The IWC banned all commercial whaling in 1986.

Scientific Whaling: Since 1986 Japan has been exploiting a loophole in the international ban on commercial whaling. Japan and Iceland, have been hunting whales for what they calls "scientific" research.  A practice that WWF says has produced no science and is simply an excuse to flood Japanese supermarkets with whale meat.

SWG: SWG stands for Small Working Group and refers to a group of members countries of the IWC that was established at the last meeting of the IWC (June 2008 Santiago, Chile), in order to come up with a compromise or ‘package deal’ intended to resolve the current impasse between pro-whaling and anti-whaling governments.

Whales eat fish: Japan claims that increasing whale populations are behind declining fish stocks, an argument that leading researchers and conservation organizations agree, is completely without scientific foundation.

See these two reports released at IWC 60 by The Humane Society International and WWF. The reports debunk the science behind the ‘whales-eat-fish’ claims made by whaling nations Japan, Norway and Iceland.

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