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Whaling and the Moratorium

The moratorium on whaling – a global ban of commercial whaling activities – entered into force in 1986. Until then, one species of large whales after the other had been hunted to commercial extinction. The decision by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of whales over more than three decades and constitutes one of the biggest achievements of international species conservation efforts.

Only a few countries disregard the moratorium and use loopholes to continue their whale hunts – even commercially. OceanCare demands that all countries respect the moratorium and that the commercial cetacean hunt finally ends.

Whaling data
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While the international community focused its criticism on Japan and Iceland, Norway recently became the world’s top whaling nation. In 2014 and 2015, the Scandinavian country killed more whales than Japan and Iceland combined. Since the moratorium on whaling entered into force, Norwegian whalers harpooned more than 12,000 minke whales. Norway justifies its whaling by pointing to tradition – however, today’s hunts are purely commercial and modern explosive harpoons and high-tech devices have nothing in common with tradition. As Norway timely filed a formal objection against the moratorium on commercial whaling, which was adopted in 1982, the country is not bound to the hunting ban in a legal sense. Please find further information in our factsheet on Norway’s whaling (in German).
OceanCare and the IWC

OceanCare has been working for global whale protection at IWC conferences as an observer since 1992. By presenting studies on the health risks associated with the consumption of whale meat loaded with pollutants, OceanCare stimulated a cooperation between the IWC and the World Health Organisation. We made vote-buying by whaling countries like Japan an issue and advocated clear definitions of the rights and obligations of non-governmental organisations, so that they are able to participate as representatives of civil society, and are not subjected to arbitrariness. Since 2015, an OceanCare expert, Dr. Silvia Frey, participates in the IWC Scientific Committee.

Looking at all those numerous threats and cumulative negative impacts on the marine giants, it is all the more important to eliminate whaling as the one threat that is easiest to spare the whales, simply by upholding the moratorium.

Get more information at the IWC FAQs (in German)


Current focus

It’s inacceptable that in defiance of the moratorium, the largest commercial whale hunt is happening right in European waters. OceanCare calls on the IWC and especially the European Union to take action to put an end to these activities.