Subsistence Whaling in the Russian Federation

The Chukotka people of the Russian Federation’s Far East hunt gray and bowhead whales and other marine mammals. The hunters use darting guns with black powder grenades or harpoons to catch the whales. Floats and lines are attached to secure and tag the whale. Spears are also sometimes used and a rifle or darting gun is used to kill the animal. These hunts have some of the longest times to death reported to the IWC, with average times reported at around 50 minutes. Individual animals have been reported to take several hours to die, with some being hit with lances and bullets several hundreds of times.

Since 1997 the IWC-issued quotas for gray and bowhead whales are shared between the Russian Federation and the United States and the current quotas are 280 bowhead and 620 gray whales landed, respectively, over the five-year period ending in 2012.

Since record keeping began, 18 bowhead and 2,892 gray whales have been reported struck and landed by Russian natives.

In recent years, the Chukotka people have been finding whales whose flesh and blubber give off strong, pungent odors, making them inedible. The IWC Scientific Committee has been investigating this alarming issue, with no resolution to date. Click here to read a news article about this issue, or view the reports from the 2007 IWC Meeting or 2009 IWC Meeting.