International Whaling Commission

The International Whaling Commission is the global intergovernmental body charged with the conservation of whales and the management of whaling.  It was established in 1946 and has grown to a current membership of 88 governments from countries all over the world.

The work undertaken by the IWC has evolved over the last seventy years although understanding the size and health of cetacean populations remains a core task.  Commercial whaling catch limits have been suspended since 1986.  The Commission continues to set catch limits for Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling: small scale, indigenous hunts, mainly in the Arctic.

Today the biggest threat to cetacean populations is bycatch and entanglement.  The IWC is working with many other stakeholder organisations to understand and mitigate this threat and others including ship strikes, anthropogenic noise, chemical and plastic pollution and habitat degradation more generally.  The IWC also runs an international strandings response and training programme, and an online handbook on sustainable whale watching.