46th Annual General Meeting

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico


The 46th Annual Meeting of the IWC was held from 23-27 May 1994 at the kind invitation of the Government of Mexico. The proceedings were conducted by the Chairman, Dr. Luis Fleischer (Mexico) and the Vice Chairman, Dr. Peter Bridgewater (Australia).

Catch limits for commercial whaling

In 1982, the Commission took a decision, which came into force for the 1986 and 1985/86 seasons, that catch limits for all commercial whaling would be set to zero. That decision also stated that by 1990 at the latest, the Commission will undertake a comprehensive assessment of the effect of the decision on whale stocks and consider modification of the provision and establishment of other catch limits.

Last year the IWC adopted a Resolution by consensus recognising the needs of the four coastal whaling communities and resolving to work expeditiously at next year's meeting to alleviate their distress. A proposal by Japan for an interim allocation of 50 minke whales to be taken by non-commercial coastal community based whaling, was defeated by 9 votes to14 with 7 abstentions.

Revised Management Scheme

The Commission accepted and endorsed the Revised Management Procedure for commercial whaling and associated Guidelines for surveys and collection of data. However, it noted that work on a number of issues, including specification of an inspection and observer system, remained to be completed before the Commission would consider establishing catch limits other than zero.

Catch limits for aboriginal subsistence whaling

This year the Scientific Committee and the Commission undertook a major review of stocks subject to aboriginal subsistence whaling and their associated catch limits. The following limits were agreed at this meeting:

  • Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort Seas stock of bowhead whales taken by Alaskan Eskimos - The total number of landed whales for the years 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1998 shall not exceed 204 whales. Restrictions are also placed on the number of strikes that can be made.
  • Eastern North Pacific gray whales taken by native peoples of Chukotka - An annual catch of 140 whales is allowed for the years 1995, 1996 and 1997.
  • West Greenland fin whales taken by Greenlanders - An annual catch of 19 whales is allowed for the years 1995, 1996 and 1997.
  • West Greenland minke whales taken by Greenlanders - The total number of whales struck for the years 1995, 1996 and 1997 shall not exceed 465, with a maximum number of 165 in any one year.
  • East Greenland minke whales taken by Greenlanders - An annual catch of 12 whales is allowed for the years 1995, 1996 and 1997.
  • Humpback whales taken by St Vincent and The Grenadines - For the seasons 1993/94 to 1995/96, the annual catch shall not exceed two whales.

The Commission also adopted a Resolution that will enable the Scientific Committee to investigate potential management regimes for aboriginal subsistence whaling.

Scientific permit catches

Three proposed permits were considered, two of which were part of continuing programmes (Norway, final year of programme, 127 minke whales from the northeastern North Atlantic; Japan, 300 plus/minus 10% minke whales from the Antarctic).

A new permit proposal to take 100 minke whales in the western North Pacific was presented by Japan.

The Commission adopted three Resolutions requesting reconsideration of the issuance of these permits.

Humane killing

The Commission considered further plans for a workshop on humane killing methods to be held in 1995. In particular, it adopted a Resolution calling for a thorough review of the use of the electric lance as a secondary method of killing whales.

Small cetaceans

Not withstanding the different views of member countries over the legal competence of the IWC to manage small cetaceans, the Commission adopted a Resolution furthering cooperation in its considerations of small cetaceans, particularly with respect to the work of the Scientific Committee. It established a voluntary fund to assist in this work. It also adopted a Resolution commending Mexican efforts to protect the endangered vaquita and encouraging further cooperative effort.

The environment and whale stocks

The Scientific Committee examined this issue in the context of the Revised Management Procedure and agreed the RMP adequately addressed such concerns. However, it went on to state that the most vulnerable species to such threats might well be those reduced to levels at which the RMP, even if applied, would result in zero catches.

The Committee is holding two workshops, one on the effects of chemical pollutants in 1995 in Norway, and one on the effects of climate change and ozone depletion in 1996 in the USA.

The Commission adopted a Resolution reaffirming its view of the importance of this issue and endorsing the Scientific Committee's plans for future work.


The Commission adopted a Resolution reaffirming its interest in the subject, encouraging some scientific work and establishing a Working Group to consider the matter of developing guidelines to meet at its next meeting.

Southern Ocean Sanctuary

The Commission, after rejecting an amendment submitted by Japan and Norway by 23 votes to 6 with 2 abstentions, adopted a proposal for Southern Ocean whale sanctuary with the boundaries shown in the figure below, by 23 votes to 1 with 6 abstentions. The sanctuary provision will be reviewed in ten years' time.

Officers of the Commission

The Commission thanked the outgoing Chairman, Dr. Luis Fleischer (Mexico), for his outstanding work on behalf of the Commission during his three years in office. The Vice Chairman, Dr. Peter Bridgewater (Australia) was elected Chairman for the coming three years. Mr. Louis Botha (South Africa) was elected Vice Chairman.

Date and place of next meeting

The Commission gratefully accepted the offer from Ireland for the 1995 meeting to be held in Dublin in May 1995.

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