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Environmental, Natural Resources, & Energy Law

IELP Contributes to the Success of the International Whaling Commission

October 17, 2018

IELP has just returned from Brazil where it contributed significantly to the success of the International Whaling Commission (IWC). IELP’s efforts began a few years ago when Professor Wold, working with IELP students, prepared a paper describing the human rights of indigenous peoples to whale for nutritional and cultural subsistence. The paper argues that there is a role for the IWC to manage those hunts.


At the recently concluded IWC annual meeting, IELP worked with IWC members seeking balance between the rights of indigenous peoples and the duties of the IWC to conserve whales. The resulting new arrangement for approving “Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling” quotas should ensure that whale hunts by Greenland, Russia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines can be subject to more scrutiny than the better managed hunt by Alaskan natives.


In addition, IELP helped defeat a proposal by Japan that would have set the stage for Japan’s resumption of commercial whaling. Working with delegations from the EU and Australia, IELP played out various procedural scenarios that Japan might use to gain acceptance of one or more elements of its proposal. Japan’s proposal was ultimately rejected in a landslide vote.


More generally, this meeting saw governments develop a real agenda for whale management. According to Wold, “Success at an IWC meeting is often judged based on whether you defeated the latest attempt by Japan to resume commercial whaling. This meeting, however, saw the IWC recognize the value of live whales to healthy ecosystems and adopt a progressive agenda for managing whales from other threats, including entanglement, noise, and bycatch.”