The International Whaling Commission is the international regulatory body for whaling on the open seas. It was created following the signing of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling in Washington, DC in 1946. The first annual meeting of the IWC took place in London, UK in 1949. The main function of the IWC is to govern whaling practices by providing protection to species, designating whale sanctuaries, funding & promoting research on whales and determining quotas.

This year's Annual Meeting of the IWC is taking place on the island of Jersey, United Kingdom July 2011

whale fluke

Countries become members to the IWC following their agreeing and signing the Convention of 1946. Canada was amongst the original signatories to the convention in 1946 and the Protocol of 1956, however, since 1982, its membership has not been renewed; and currently is the only country to hunt whales while not a member of the IWC. A current list of the member countries can be found here.

For more than 40 years, the staff of The Humane Society of Canada have been working across the country and around the world protecting Canadian interests and lending Canadian expertise to help people, animals and the environment. The staff of The Humane Society of Canada have been accredited observers to this international treaty negotiation.

minke whale A reported 89 nations have now signed the international whaling agreement and there is strong evidence that Japan has bought the votes of small developing nations. Japan and its allies are expected to use these votes to support secret ballots and other mechanisms in those dealing with environmental threats to whales, animal welfare, whale sanctuaries, whale watching and slaughter of whales and dolphins. In open defiance of the twenty year old ban on whaling, Japan, Norway, Iceland and other countries have slaughtered over 30,000 whales; and in the opinion of The Humane Society of Canada these countries are environmental outlaws.

Transparency International founded to to combating corruption has expressed deep concern over vote buying at the International Whaling Commission (See Box 5.2). More information on Transparency International can be found here.

The Humane Society of Canada supports ECO which is published at the whaling talks by a coalition of non-governmental organizations and can be found here starting July 11th.

The animal charity is also a member of the Global Whale Alliance fighting to end the slaughter of whales.

On May 28th, 2007, Japan's cabinet minister in charge of whaling issues killed himself.  For more information on Japan and bribery at the IWC click here.