International Whaling Commission
The worldwide outcry against the slaughter of whales in the 1980s led to the member countries of the International Whaling Commission voting for a global moratorium banning the whaling of 10 species of 'great whale' for commercial purposes. After decades of hunting, whale populations had been reduced to a mere fraction of their former levels and many species were perilously close to extinction. The moratorium has remained in place since 1986 and is allowing whales some respite to slowly begin to recover their populations, although they still battle many other threats such as shipping collisions, seismic disturbance, marine debris, pollution and the environmental changes brought by global warming. For some species of great whale the moratorium may have come too late, numbers of Blue Whale, Northern Right Whale and Gray Whale still teeter close to extinction.
Sadly, the whaling moratorium was only a temporary win and not all IWC countries respect it; both Japan and Norway have continued hunting whales. Both countries are determined to bring an end to the moratorium and with each annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission the moratorium looks ever more precarious.
Norway took out a reservation against the moratorium, and under IWC rules this means it's whaling industry has been allowed to continue killing Minke whales in the north east Atlantic.
Under the rules of the IWC, which were set up in the 1940s, countries are also allowed to issue permits to kill whales for scientific purposes. It is this loophole that Japan exploits to continue its whaling interests.
HSI always has a team of campaigners at the annual IWC meetings, lobbying to ensure the moratorium remains in place, scientific whaling is strongly opposed and proper conservation measures are taken to protect whale and dolphin populations. Considerable effort has gone into lobbying for sanctuaries, lately for a whale sanctuary in the South Pacific to compliment those already achieved in the Southern and Indian Oceans.