IWC65: Wheels up for the International Whaling Commission Meeting!

Having spent most of my career as a road warrior, you’d think I’d be better at the packing part.

Inevitably though, I wait til the last possible moment to pull my luggage down from the attic, consult the weather gods via iPhone for whichever destination country, and finally begin loading clothes, toiletries and IFAW literature into my bags.

This trip involves me and several colleagues from Europe, Australia and Japan heading to Portoroz, Slovenia for the 65th meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

As I look over my itinerary, including a tight early morning layover in Rome, it occurs to me I may well arrive there without baggage. 

Established in 1946, the IWC is the global body responsible for the regulation of whaling and the conservation of our planet’s great whales. And thanks in no small part to IFAW’s experienced team of legal, technical and scientific experts working at the IWC, the steady movement of the forum over the past several decades has been toward conservation.

The IWC imposed a global ban on commercial whaling in 1986. Since that time, new whale sanctuaries have been created and more are in the pipeline.

In 2003, with leadership from the Government of Mexico, the IWC has established a Conservation Committee to highlight cooperative approaches to the many threats – some familiar, some still emerging – that affect whales and their habitats around the world.

In 2011, the IWC addressed threats to its own survival, passing an IFAW-backed package of reforms introduced by the UK government to modernize Commission procedures, increase transparency and discourage corruption.

Year in and year out, IFAW experts have been at the forefront of NGO delegations at this important intergovernmental body, working to ensure that whaling for commercial purposes, still practiced by Japan, Iceland and Norway, becomes a thing of the past.

Of the 15 or so IWC meetings I’ve attended, this year’s may be the most important.

It is the first such gathering since the landmark ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Netherlands earlier this year, which found Japan’s so-called “scientific whaling” in the waters of the Southern Ocean Sanctuary around Antarctica to be illegal and ordered it to stop.

Following the verdict, Japan quickly announced it would comply with the judgment and cancelled its Antarctic whale hunt this year.   Within weeks, Prime Minister Abe and his Fisheries Agency announced an about-face, and intended to resume its Antarctic whale slaughter in 2015. 

So the stage is set for quite a meeting in Slovenia.

The Government of Japan would like the international community to ignore the baggage of previous IWC decisions and the ICJ judgment.

Team IFAW will be working with conservation-minded governments to ensure the IWC’s migration away from whale killing continues, and that Japan’s needless slaughter in the name of science finally ends.


Read more about IFAW efforts to protect whales on our campaign page

Thank you for your support. 

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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Beth Allgood, Country Director, United States
Country Director, United States
Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Senior Advisor, Policy Development
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation Program
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Senior Vice President
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Jason Bell, Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation
Sonja Van Tichelen, Vice President of International Operations
Vice President of International Operations
Staci McLennan, Director, EU Office
Director, EU Office
Tania McCrea-Steele, Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime