International Whaling Commission

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  • It is an international body set up by the terms of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (Signed in Washington, 1946)
  • Aims to provide for the proper conservation of whale stocks and thus make possible the orderly development of the whaling industry
  • In 1982 the IWC adopted a moratorium on commercial whaling.
  • Japan, Russia etc. oppose this moratorium
  • The IWC allows non-zero whaling quotas for aborginal subsistence and also member nations may issue ‘Scientific Permits’ to their citizens.
  • IWC is accompanied by legally binding schedule which sets out specific measures that the IWC has collectively decided as necessary in order to regulate whaling and conserve whale stocks. 
  • Schedule can be amended by at least three quarters majority agreement unlike convention.
  • Conservation measures advocated under the schedule are catch limits (which may be zero as it the case for commercial whaling) by species and area, designating specified areas as whale sanctuaries, protection of calves and females accompanied by calves, and restrictions on hunting methods.
  • What it does?
    • 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.

Japan Withdrawal:

Japan has announced its decision to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission (IWC). The withdrawal would enable Japan to resume commercial whaling activities.

Japan has said that it would undertake commercial whaling  from July 2019 limited to Japan’s territorial waters and exclusive economic zones. As per the announcement, Japan would not undertake whaling activities in Antarctic waters or in the southern hemisphere.

Why the withdrawal?

The Japanese government was trying hard to persuade the IWC to allow its commercial whaling operations. IWC refused to budge and rejected the proposal of Japan.

Japan has said that since most whale species are not endangered and that eating whale is a part of its culture, Japan has been forced to withdraw from the IWC.

With the withdrawal Japan joins Iceland and Norway in openly defying the organization’s ban on commercial whale hunting.