2007 IWC Meeting

The International Whaling Commission's 59th annual meeting in Anchorage, USA 2007

June 1, 2007 - The final day opened early and was then immediately closed to observers so that a private commissioners meeting could convene. The meeting reopened a little later with a more decisive air and a renewed desire to move things along. Immediately Greenland's request for its increased aboriginal subsistence whaling quota was reopened and after some debate the issue was put to a vote and passed by 41 in favor, with 11 against and 16 abstentions. The meeting next revisited the issue of the future of the IWC and a decision to hold an intercessional meeting to further the discussion along. 

May 31, 2007 - The third day was very long and ran late into the night. The Southern Atlantic Sanctuary proposal that had been held over from the previous day came up first. After further discussion, the proposed schedule amendment failed after a vote which required a three-fourth's majority. 

May 30, 2007 - The bulk of second day of the IWC meeting was spent discussing the much-anticipated aboriginal subsistence whaling quotas for native hunters in the United States, the Russian Federation, Denmark, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. These five-year quotas were last due for renewal in 2002, and at that time, the quota for bowhead whales hunted by Alaskan natives was blocked by the pro-whaling nations. The quota later passed at a special meeting, where the United States for the first time voted in favor of a resumption of Japanese small type coastal whaling. It was widely anticipated that a repeat of the 2002 meeting would occur.

May 29, 2007 - Currently, AWI's Susan Millward, D.J. Schubert and Serda Ozbenian are attending the International Whaling Commission (IWC) annual meeting in Anchorage, Alaska.  The pro-whaling nations of the IWC are inching closer to overturning the ban on commercial whaling, and we are pushing the United States and other countries to step up and defend the whales.  With Iceland having already resumed commercial whaling and Japan now pushing for a lifting of the moratorium by seeking IWC approval for a resumption of its coastal commercial whaling, much is at stake. 

Animal Welfare Institute Positions on Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling Issues at IWC59 Full PDF

Animal Welfare Institute Positions on Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling Issues at IWC59 Summary:

Paragraph 13 of the Schedule to the Convention allows for whaling by aboriginals for subsistence purposes. Native peoples in Greenland, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Russian Federation and the United States currently engage in aboriginal subsistence whaling.

Greenland is a self-governed territory of Denmark and native Greenlanders hunt minke, bowhead, fin whales as well as other marine mammals for subsistence purposes. The current quota for West Greenland for the years 2008-2012 is 2 bowhead whales, 19 fin whales and 200 minke whales and an additional 12 minke whales for East Greenland. At the 2008 IWC meetings, Greenland once again made a request for a quota of 10 humpback whales but the request was denied. Since whaling records began, 3,381 whales have been reported as struck and landed by Greenland natives.

Native Bequians of St. Vincent and the Grenadines are currently issued a quota of humpback whales by the IWC for subsistence purposes. Natives of this country have also been known to hunt sperm whales in the past. The current quota is 20 animals over a five-year period ending in 2012, and 24 whales have been killed by the Bequians since 1986.

The Chukotka people of the Russian Federation traditionally hunt gray whales and bowhead whales. The IWC issues quotas for bowhead and gray whales, which the Chukotka natives share with the Alaskan natives of the United States and the Makah tribe of Washington state, respectively. Since record keeping began, 13 bowhead and 2,646 gray whales have been struck and landed by Russian natives. The current quotas for bowhead and gray whales landed are 280 and 620, respectively, over the five-year period ending in 2012.

The United States is a whaling nation, by virtue of the Alaskan natives who have hunted whales and other marine mammals for subsistence purposes for millennia. The Alaskan native peoples hunt bowhead whales by the use of an IWC quota that is shared by the Chukotka people of the Russian Federation. The Alaskan natives have also hunted gray whales in the past although they do not share the quota of gray whales assigned by the IWC. Alaskan natives have struck and landed 1070 of bowhead whales.

The Makah Tribe of Neah Bay, Washington state was formerly a whaling tribe that ceased whaling for subsistence purposes in the 1920s. In 1996, the Makah tribe, citing a cultural need and an 1855 treaty right, succeeded in persuading the U.S. government to request that the IWC assign it a quota of gray whales. Through a controversial vote, the quota passed at the 1998 IWC meeting.

In May 1999, the Makah killed a juvenile gray whale. A lawsuit against NMFS for failure to comply with its National Environmental Policy Act responsibilities and filed in 1997 was finally won on appeal in 2000, and subsequent hunts were suspended. The Makah tribe has since requested a waiver of the take moratorium under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and NMFS is currently preparing the Environmental Impact Assessment that is required under the National Environmental Policy Act.