Global ban on commercial whaling under threat at critical meeting of International Whaling Commission

Friday, 7 September, 2018

international whaling commission 2018Who: International Whaling Commission

What: Pro and anti-whaling delegations considering a raft of issues related to whales and whaling at biennial meeting, including Japanese proposal which could threaten the worldwide ban on commercial whaling.

Where: Florianopolis, Brazil

When: 10-14 September, 2018

As pro- and anti-whaling members of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) gather in Brazil for their biennial meeting, government delegations at the critical IWC 67 will be asked to support or reject a controversial proposal by Japan which threatens the global ban on commercial whaling.

The stage is set for a critical meeting of the IWC next week, with around 80 member countries coming together for their biennial meeting which will examine Japan’s ‘Way Forward’ package. Despite its name, Japan’s "Way Forward" package seeks to take the IWC backwards to its history of commercial whaling and would effectively end the moratorium. It aims to commit the IWC to establishing commercial whaling quotas from 2020 onwards for whale populations confirmed as sufficiently abundant after assessment by Scientific Committee. Yet the proposal fails to address how any proposed future commercial whaling would be managed effectively; and blurs the distinction between commercial and aboriginal subsistence whaling.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) opposes Japan’s proposal and is urging member countries to reject it. IFAW encourages governments to instead support important proposals taking forward the conservation work of the IWC to help protect whales, which face more threats today than ever before.

Patrick Ramage, IFAW’s Marine Programme Director, said: “This meeting is critical. The IWC should be a 21st Century whale conservation body, not an old whalers’ club. Member countries must stand together and push progress towards whale protection, not let this Commission be pulled back into the bygone era of commercial whaling.”

In contrast to Japan’s proposal, host country Brazil’s Florianopolis Declaration presents a positive vision for the IWC and recognises the vital role whales play in the ecosystem as well as the importance of whale watching to coastal communities. IFAW encourages IWC member countries to support this.

Ramage added: “Whale watching is now worth more than US $2 billion dollars a year worldwide – helping whales, people and coastal communities thrive. Emerging science is revealing the importance of whales for ocean ecosystems and presents a compelling case for why the IWC should be fully focussed on recovering all whale populations, not contemplating further exploitation.”

In addition, IFAW urges member countries to raise the recent resumption of fin whaling in Iceland, which prompted international outcry when a rare hybrid blue/fin whale was harpooned, during the week-long meeting.

IFAW encourages member countries to support a raft of other important proposals taking forward the conservation work of the IWC. These include solutions on human-made underwater noise, ship strikes and ghost gear (abandoned fishing gear) entanglement.

Conservation-minded countries are also being asked to support a renewed proposal for a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary, after previous proposals for such a sanctuary were harpooned by the pro-whaling lobby. It would support enhanced whale watching in this area as well as more non-lethal research on whales, something which provides more reliable and precise information on whale populations and threats than has ever been achieved by scientific whaling.

IFAW opposes whaling because it is cruel and unnecessary; there is simply no humane way to kill a whale. Responsible whale watching offers a humane and economically viable alternative that is better for whales and provides more sustainable livelihoods for people.


For more information or to arrange interviews with IFAW experts please contact Clare Sterling at IFAW on mobile +44 (0)7917 507717 or email Skype interviews can be arranged on request.

IWC information and documents are available at

IFAW will be tweeting from the proceedings at @action4ifaw

Images and footage available for media use by registering with

IFAW, Greenpeace, WWF joint statement: 67th meeting of the International Whaling Commission


About IFAW

Founded in 1969, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is a global non-profit organisation that protects animals and the places they call home. With offices in 15 countries and projects in over 40, we rescue, rehabilitate and release animals into secure landscapes around the world. In collaboration with governments and local communities, our experienced campaigners, legal and political experts, and internationally acclaimed scientists pioneer lasting solutions to some of the most pressing animal welfare and wildlife conservation issues of our time.

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Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
Manager, Marine Mammal Rescue and Research
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation Program
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation