47th Annual General Meeting

Dublin, Ireland

Fiinal Press Release 2 June, 1995

The 47th Annual Meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) was held from 29 May - 2 June 1995 in Dublin Castle, by kind invitation of the Government of Ireland. The proceedings were conducted by the 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.

A proposal by Japan for an interim relief allocation of 50 minke whales to be taken by non-commercial coastal community based whaling, was defeated. However, the Commission did adopt a Resolution recognising the contribution made by Japan with its action plan for Japanese community-based whaling.

As Norway has lodged objections to the relevant items in the Schedule, it has exercised its right to set national catch limits for its coastal whaling operations for minke whales. The Commission this year passed a Resolution calling on Norway to halt immediately all whaling activities under its jurisdiction. The Scientific Committee is carrying out a major intersessional work programme to obtain an agreed abundance estimate for minke whales in the northeastern Atlantic.

Revised Management Scheme

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

Catch limits for aboriginal subsistence whaling

Last 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 that 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 Scientific Committee also began to investigate potential new management regimes for aboriginal subsistence whaling.

Scientific permit catches

Two proposed permits by Japan were considered.

  • One was an extension of its continuing programme in the Southern Hemisphere (now 400 plus/minus 10% minke whales from the Antarctic).
  • The second one was for the continuing programme to take 1OO minke whales in the western North Pacific.

The Commission adopted Resolutions modifying the Guidelines for the Scientific Committee's review of research permit proposals and calling on Governments to refrain from issuing permits in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary.

Humane killing

The Commission held a special workshop on whale killing methods from 23-25 May. The workshop drew up a revised action plan to address this issue. The Commission passed a Resolution welcoming the information provided by the Faroe Islands on its pilot whale hunt and encouraging the Faroe Islands to continue its efforts to improve the methods used. The Commission also passed a Resolution endorsing the revised action plan, and pending a further review next year, urging Governments to suspend the use of the electric lance as a secondary method of killing whales.

Small cetaceans

Notwithstanding the different views of member countries over the legal competence of the IWC to manage small cetaceans, the Commission continues to co-operate in its considerations of small cetaceans, particularly with respect to the work of the Scientific Committee. It has established a voluntary fund to assist in this work.

The environment and whale stocks

The Scientific Committee has examined this issue in the context of the Revised Management Procedure and agreed the RMP adequately addressed such concerns. However, it has noted 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 held a workshop on the effects of chemical pollutants on cetaceans in 1995 in Norway, and will be holding one on the effects of climate change and ozone depletion in 1996 in the USA. The Commission adopted a Resolution endorsing the recommendations of the Workshop for future work, particularly with respect to designing a research programme to elucidate the effects of pollutants on cetaceans.


The Commission continued to address this issue and a Working Group will meet next year to consider further the matter of developing guidelines for whalewatching operations.

Southern Ocean

The Commission has agreed to provide financial support for two cruises in the Southern Hemisphere.

  • One is aimed at providing information on blue whales.
  • The other is aimed at providing information on minke and other whales.

The Government of Japan is generously providing the vessels for these cruises.

The Scientific Committee will continue to address matters relating to research in the Sanctuary.


Dr. L. Botha (South Africa) resigned as Vice-Chairman of the Commission dueto ill health. Mr. Michael Canny (Ireland) was elected in his stead.

Date and place of next meeting

The Commission will meet in Aberdeen (UK) in June 1996.

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