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What happened at the International Whaling Commission Meeting 2016?

The International Whaling Commission, or IWC, is the body that makes decisions that affect the future for whales. WDC's Stop Whaling team play an important role at these summits providing expert advice to governments and representing the whales.

Governments come together every two years at meetings of the IWC to discuss whaling and other issues affecting whales. It is 30 years since the IWC introduced the global moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986, and WDC has helped keep this ban in place ever since.

Minke Whale
Minke Whale

The IWC met this year from Thursday, 20 October until Friday, 28 October in Portoroz, Slovenia and our team was reporting direct from the meeting. 

The meeting was live streaming the debates and may remain as a long-term record of the meeting discussions.

Monday Day 1 (Completed): 
Tuesday Day 2 (Completed)
Up next Wednesday Day 3 
Thursday Day 4
Friday Day 5 

What did the IWC debate this year?

Here are three of the highlights:

  1. Japan's so-called 'scientific whaling'
    We must make sure Japan's abuse of the loophole of Scientific Whaling is stopped. This was discussed at length at the IWC meeting in 2014 after the International Court of Justice ruled that Japan's whaling in the Antarctic is illegal. Australia has put forward a resolution that would mean any requests for permits to kill whales for research purposes would have to be approved by the IWC. WDC will be working hard to generate support for this proposal. If a majority of countries vote in favour, it could save the lives of hundreds of whales every year. These discussions will follow hard on the heels of the IUCN Congress call on Japan to cease its whaling, and WDC's exposure of illegal international sales of whale meat from the huntYou can read the text of this proposal in full here:
    Draft Resolution on Improving the Review Process for Whaling Under Special Permit
    Japan on STCW at IWC66

  2. Creation of a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary
    For decades we have been calling for a protected area between South America and the west coast of Africa. In 2014, we came one step closer and we hope that this year will be the year that whales finally get the protected area they need and deserve. This will be a place where they can live their lives safe and free from the threats of hunting, entanglement in fishing gear, oil and gas exploration and development and all the other dangers that humans inflict on them every day. You can read the text of this proposal in full here:
    Draft Schedule Amendment for a South Atlantic Sanctuary
    Supporting Documentation available here
  3. Whaling by aboriginal people for subsistence needs
    The IWC has historically allowed the hunting of a limited number of whales to feed those people deemed to have a genuine and continuous nutritional, cultural, and subsistence need for whale meat and blubber. However, Greenland and other countries with such a quota, want to expand their sales of whale meat and are proposing that they should be able to decide for themselves how many whales they can kill, without having to have quotas issued by the IWC. These quotas are already abused and a WDC investigation exposed whale meat on sale to tourists in Greenland. We will provide decision makers with research briefings, legal analysis and scientific expertise. Our goal is to make sure that these continued abuses of IWC regulations are stopped once and for all.

And also on the table...

There are some important resolutions which look at the important role whales and dolphins play in the health of the marine environment

There are a number of administrative issues that the IWC has to deal with, all of which need to be examined carefully for their implications for future meetings.
And there are some resolutions that are being proposed by the whalers to enhance their claims to resume commercial whaling including a follow-up to Japan abortive attempts to get the conservation countries to back down over so-called 'small type commercial whaling' (STCW) or 'coastal commercial whaling'. Japan's scientific credibility is not only under the microscope because of its failure to carry out science in its so-called 'scientific whaling' but because the veracity of its reporting has once more been brought into doubt.
The provisional agenda, relevant papers and timetable can be downloaded via the following links:

Meeting venue 

The venue for the 66th Meeting will be the Convention Centre of the Grand Hotel Bernardin:

St. Bernardin Resort
Grand Hotel Bernardin
Obala 2
6320 Portorož
T: +386 5 695 10 00
F: +386 5 674 64 11