2001 ANNUAL MEETING
The Annual Meeting took place from 23-27 July 2001
at the Novotel London West, Hammersmith International
Centre, London, under the Chairmanship of Prof.
Bo Fernholm (Sweden).
The associated meetings of the Scientific Committee
and Commission Committees and Working Groups were held
at the same venue in the period 2-25 July.
The major item discussed on the first morning concerned
the adherence of Iceland to the Convention with a reservation
to Paragraph 10(e). That paragraph refers to what is
popularly termed the ‘moratorium’ on commercial whaling.
There was a difference of views as to whether the
Commission should accept Iceland’s reservation, and
indeed whether the Commission has the competence to
decide. On the latter point, the Commission voted by
19 votes to 18 votes (1 country was absent for the vote)
that it had the competence to determine the legal status
of Iceland’s reservation. After that vote, the Commission
voted on a motion that:
‘The Commission does not accept Iceland’s reservation
regarding paragraph 10(e) of the Schedule (i.e. that
Iceland is not bound by paragraph 10(e) of the Schedule,
as reflected in its instrument of adherence dated 8
Sixteen member nations refused to participate in
the vote, believing it to be illegal. The motion was
then carried with 19 votes in favour, 0 votes against
and 3 abstentions.
After consultation with Commissioners, the Chairman
then ruled that Iceland should `assist in the
meeting as an observer.` This ruling was challenged.
In the subsequent vote, the Chairman’s ruling was upheld
by 18 votes to 16 votes with 3 abstentions (1 country
was absent for the vote).
for commercial whaling
In 1982, the Commission took a decision, which came
into force from the 1986 and 1985/86 seasons, that catch
limits for all commercial whaling would be set to zero.
Norway has lodged objections to the ban and has exercised
its right to set national catch limits for its coastal
whaling operations for minke whales. The Commission
passed a Resolution urging Norway to reconsider exercising
this right and to reconsider granting export permits
for whale products.
As in previous years, the Commission did not adopt
a proposal by Japan for an interim relief allocation
of 50 minke whales to be taken by coastal community-based
whaling. However, the Commission did pass by majority
a Resolution reaffirming the Commission’s commitment
to work expeditiously to alleviate the distress
caused by the cessation of minke whaling to the communities
of Abashiri, Ayukawa, Wadaura and Taiji.
Although the Commission has accepted and endorsed
the Revised Management Procedure (RMP) for commercial
whaling, it has noted that work on a number of issues,
including specification of an inspection and observer
system must be completed before the Commission will
consider establishing catch limits other than zero.
This work is ongoing. The Commission had held
an intersessional Working Group meeting in February
2001 which made some progress. At this year's meeting
it was agreed to establish an intersessional 'Expert
Drafting Group' that will try to develop final text
for the inspection and observation scheme.
Catch limits for aboriginal subsistence
The Commission has agreed to the following catch
limits for several stocks subject to aboriginal subsistence
Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort Seas stock of bowhead whales
(taken by Alaskan Eskimos and native peoples of Chukotka)
- The total number of landed whales for the years 1998,
1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002 shall not exceed 280 whales,
with no more than 67 whales struck in any year (up to
15 unused strikes may be carried over each year).
Eastern North Pacific gray whales (taken by those
whose "traditional, aboriginal and subsistence needs
have been recognised") - A total catch of
620 whales is allowed for the years 1998, 1999, 2000,
2001 and 2002 with a maximum of 140 in any one year.
West Greenland fin whales (taken by Greenlanders)
- An annual catch of 19 whales is allowed for
the years 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002.
West Greenland minke whales (taken by Greenlanders)
- The annual number of whales struck for the years 1998,
1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002, shall not exceed 175 (up
to 15 unused strikes may be carried over each year).
East Greenland minke whales (taken by
Greenlanders) - An annual catch of 12 whales
is allowed for the years 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 and
2002 (up to 3 unused strikes may be carried over
Humpback whales (taken by St Vincent and The Grenadines)
- for the seasons 2000 to 2002, the annual catch
shall not exceed two whales.
The taking of calves or females accompanied by calves
The Scientific Committee has continued to make
progress towards developing new management regimes for
aboriginal subsistence whaling; this work has been given
high priority by the Commission. The catch limits for
aboriginal subsistence whaling will need to be renewed
next year and the Scientific Committee will be recommending
a new method of establishing catch limits for bowhead
whales at that time.
STATUS OF WHALES
Despite a long period of protection, several populations
of great whales remain highly endangered and number
500 or less. These include all bowhead whale stocks
apart from the Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort Seas stock that
numbers over 7,000; gray whales in the western Pacific
(those in the eastern Pacific, by contrast, number over
20,000); all stocks of northern right whales; and various
stocks of blue whales. Some of these small Arctic bowhead
populations are subjected to direct catches outside
IWC regulations (a bowhead was taken in 2000 by Canadian
Eskimos), or are killed by ship strikes or are bycaught
in fishing gear. The Commission has attached great importance
to trying to improve the survivorship of these stocks.
This year it passed two Resolutions, one on western
Pacific gray whales and the other on incidental catches.
Two proposed permits by Japan were considered. One
is an extension of its continuing programme in the Southern
Hemisphere (now 400±10% minke whales from the Antarctic).
The second is for the final year of a two-year feasibility
study primarily aimed at feeding ecology in the context
of contributing to the ‘conservation and sustainable
use of marine living resources in the western North
Pacific, especially within Japan’s EEZ.’ The programme
proposes the taking of 100 minke whales, 50 Bryde’s
whales and 10 sperm whales in the western North Pacific.
The issuance of such permits is a sovereign right under
the Convention. The Commission adopted Resolutions by
majority calling on the Government of Japan to refrain
from issuing these permits and reiterated that in reviewing
scientific permits, the Scientific Committee should
examine whether the research is required for management
or could be carried out using non-lethal means.
Whale killing methods and associated
In 1998, the Commission had passed a Resolution that
encouraged nations to supply relevant data on killing
times and related issues in future years and also to
provide technical assistance to reduce time to unconsciousness
and death in aboriginal subsistence fisheries. This
year, the Commission reviewed progress in the context
of the revised ‘Action Plan’ developed by the Commission
in 1998 and passed a Resolution detailing plans to hold
an expert workshop on this issue in 2003 and encouraging
member countries to submit relevant data and expertise
to help reduce times to unconsciousness and death in
all whaling operations.
In recent years, the Commission has strengthened
its commitment to research on environmental changes
and the effects on cetaceans. In particular, last
year, it has provided some ‘seed funding’ for two major
collaborative research initiatives made by its Scientific
Committee with respect to (1) chemical pollutants (POLLUTION
2000+) and (2) baleen whale habitat and prey studies
in co-operation with CCAMLR and Southern Ocean GLOBEC
(SOWER 2000). However, these programmes require considerably
more funding if they are to succeed. Although the Commission
has provided more money for the coming year, Governments
and others are requested to provide additional funding.
The Commission has also passed a Resolution endorsing
the Scientific Committee's plans to hold a workshop
to begin to look at interactions between fisheries and
The Commission passed a Resolution by consensus with
some reservations encouraging governments to sign, ratify
and adhere to the 2001 Stockholm Convention on Persistent
Organic Pollutants. It also passed a Resolution on the
importance of habitat protection and integrated coastal
Notwithstanding the different views of member countries
over the legal competence of the IWC to manage small
cetaceans, Contracting Governments continue to co-operate
in consideration of small cetaceans, particularly with
respect to the work of the Scientific Committee. This
year the Commission passed two Resolutions on small
At last year's meeting, the Commission established
a Task Force charged with working intersessionally to
identify a set of principles with a view to developing
a more equitable scheme for financial contributions.
Specifically, a new scheme should reduce the financial
burden of membership of small developing countries.
At the Meeting, the Commission (1) endorsed the 'guiding
principles' recommended by the Task Force - Openness,
stability, fairness and 'user pays' (2) noted that it
had made considerable progress and (3) instructed the
Task Force to undertake further work at another intersessional
meeting before the 2002 Annual Meeting to try to reach
Future Annual Meetings
The 2002 Annual Meeting will take place in Shimonoseki,
Japan in May. The 2003 meeting will take place in Germany.