IWC meeting 2016 – what to expect

21 October 2016

This blog was written by Willie MacKenzie, the Greenpeace UK oceans campaigner, and originally appeared on the Greenpeace UK blog. You can follow more of Willie's work on Twitter:  @williemackenzie

Humpback whales break the surface as they head south to Antarctica for the summer, 30th September 2012, Southern Indian Ocean.

© Paul Hilton / Greenpeace


Delegations from global governments, and representatives from NGOs are currently on their way to Slovenia for the biennial meeting of the International Whaling Commission meeting – so here’s a quick synopsis of what to expect from the meeting:

Whaling: this year’s IWC meeting is likely to be a polarised debate, with ‘pro-whaling’ governments keen to undermine the ban on commercial whaling in any way possible, and ‘pro-whales’ governments keen to defend it. It’s also the first IWC meeting since the UN’s International Court of Justice ruled against the Government of Japan’s controversial ‘scientific whaling’ in the Southern Ocean, and Japan’s subsequent decision to start a new programme of ‘scientific whaling’ to get around this.

Sanctuaries: probably the biggest issue to be decided at this IWC meeting is whether to establish a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary. This is backed by many nations around the South Atlantic, and has lots of popular support too, but has been resisted before for political reasons as it puts areas of ocean further off limits to hypothetical future whaling.

Ecosystems: up for discussion is a resolution recognising the importance of whales to ocean ecosystems. It’s been dubbed by some as the ‘whale poo’ resolution – but whale poo, and whales generally are now recognised to be a big deal for making the oceans healthy, full of life, and be better able to deal with impacts of climate change. Expect whale poo to be big. 

Anniversaries: lastly, 2016 has three big IWC milestones to recognise. It’s 70 years since the IWC was created; 50 years since blue whales were protected from commercial whaling, and; 30 years since the moratorium on commercial whaling came into force – undoubtedly one of the world’s greatest conservation victories.

Greenpeace will have a delegation of whales experts at the IWC meeting, and we are campaigning to defend the ban on commercial whaling, to designate a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary, and to continue to transform the IWC into the conservation-focused body that the world’s remaining whale populations so desperately need. Look out for regular updates.

You can still join the campaign for a whale sanctuary in the South atlantic. Sign the petition now!

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