The International Whaling Commission (IWC)

HISTORY AND PRESENT STATUS

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) was established on 2 December 1946 in Washington DC under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, which entered into force on 10 November 1948. The Commission has as its main objective the conservation of whale stocks and the orderly development of the whaling industry in terms of the regulations of the Convention. South Africa is presently a member of the IWC contributions review committee. The committee has as its aim the reduction of membership payments in order to broaden representation that will include members from the developing world to the IWC.

As of 30 March 2006, there are 66 Member States of which 11 are African.

South Africa participates fully in the activities of the IWC, and has been a non-whaling nation since 1975. Strict legislation for the conservation of whales within a 200 seamile exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) off the South African coastline has been passed and all whales are now fully protected within South African waters.

OTHER DEPARTMENTS AND COOPERATING ORGANISATIONS

Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism
DEAT: Chief Directorate Marine and Coastal Management
Dolphin Action Group

RELEVANT TREATIES/PROTOCOLS

International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling
Protocol to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling

GENERAL COMMENTS

South Africa is a founder nation and has an excellent record for contributing towards its conservation objective and research aimed at providing a scientific basis for whale stock management. All whales are now fully protected in South African waters under the Marine Living Resources Act. 1998, and on the high seas in the Indian and Southern Oceans Sanctuaries under the IWC convention.

South Africa supports a moratorium on commercial whaling introduced in 1986. In 1993, South Africa co-sponsored a resolution-supporting whale watching, an activity that has considerable potential for contributing towards the country's already flourishing ecotourism sector. A start was made with the establishing of a local whale watching industry in 1998 and it is today one of the fastest growing whale watching destiny in the world.

Conservation measures assisted the threatened southern right whale and humpback whale populations off the South African coast to recover from extremely low numbers.

South African scientists are at the forefront of all facets of whale research and the country plays a prominent role in the convention.

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2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa