The International Whaling Commission (IWC) is the global body charged with the conservation of whales and the management of whaling. The IWC currently has 88 member governments from countries all over the world. All members are signatories to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW). This Convention is the legal framework which established the IWC in 1946.
Uncertainty over whale numbers led to the introduction of a ‘moratorium’ on commercial whaling in 1986. This remains in place although the Commission continues to set catch limits for aboriginal subsistence whaling. Today, the Commission also works to understand and address a wide range of non-whaling threats to cetaceans including entanglement, ship strike, marine debris, climate change and other environmental concerns.
OceanCare has been the only Swiss NGO acting as an observer to the IWC since 1992, with the objective of securing protection for whales in the world’s oceans. OceanCare has shed light on the health risks of whale meat consumption and the need for the IWC to cooperate with the World Health Organisation. OceanCare has provided focus on the legal limits of exercising power by states on other states (vote buying), and on NGO rights and duties. OceanCare experts formally participate in the IWC Scientific Committee.