On December 2nd, 2021, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) celebrates 75 years since its creation. Originally established as a body managing the commercial killing of whales, the IWC has evolved into a vital, global organisation that is central to global efforts to address the threats and challenges faced by all cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises), including from chemical and noise pollution, marine debris, ship strikes, fisheries bycatch, habitat loss and the climate crisis.
This has never been so critical. As the health of the world’s oceans dramatically declines, cetaceans are in trouble: of 90 recognised species of cetaceans, 22 are ‘Critically Endangered’, ‘Endangered’ or ‘Vulnerable’; 38 out of the 40 assessed subspecies and subpopulations are in the same troubling categories.
Major conservation and animal protection organisations from around the world, many of which have been active participants in IWC meetings and whale conservation for many decades, are coming together on the IWC’s 75th anniversary to celebrate its history and evolution and to launch a new Vision for its next 50 years. The Vision, supported by more than 50 organizations from 18 countries, focuses on the IWC’s strong legal basis, global reach and established mandate to implement a bold international conservation agenda for cetaceans and their environment. This will enable them to maximise their vital ecological contributions to the health and productivity of our seas, including enhancing fish populations by increasing primary productivity, sequestering carbon and promoting biodiversity.