The Commission (IWC)

IWC is an intergovernmental organization that brings together representatives of all Member States. Since 2012, it meets every two years and its goal is whaling management and cetacean conservation. At its meetings it adopts Resolutions and regularly amends Regulations appended to the Convention. In its work, the IWC is assisted by various Committees and Sub-Committees.

The Scientific Committee

The committee's role is crucial because all IWC decisions must be based on scientific advice. The Scientific Committee gives its opinion to the IWC during the decision-making process. The IWC is however not bound by this advice and may deviate.

The IWC, through its Scientific Committee, plays a crucial role in undertaking research on the populations and the threats facing cetaceans: collisions, bycatches, etc. This is essential for effective conservation of these animals. IWC examines the direct and indirect causes of mortality of large cetaceans and develops several projects with voluntary funding focusing on small cetaceans especially the critically endangered species. It is also interested in environmental issues (marine debris, noise, pollution, etc.), scientific aspects of whale watching, status of whale populations, aboriginal quotas, scientific permits and encourages the use of non-lethal scientific research methods.

The Subcommittee on Small Cetaceans

This sub-committee identifies priority species and areas for consideration. For example, the IWC has set up cooperation with ASCOBANS for implementing a rehabilitation plan for harbour porpoises in the Baltic Sea.

The Conservation Committee

This committee manages data from Member States and prepares plans for the conservation of cetaceans. It develops strategies to reduce the number of collisions with ships, to improve conditions for whale watching, etc.

The Sub-Committee on Aboriginal Subsistence Hunting

This subcommittee manages data on subsistence hunting: cultural and nutritional needs of the affected populations, use of the killed animals, etc.

It advises the IWC in the decision-making process on subsistence hunting, especially on the allocation of quotas.

Working Group on Hunting Methods and other issues related to Welfare

This group manages all data on the hunting methods and advises the IWC with the aim to advocate the least painful methods for cetaceans.

The Subcommittee on breaches

The Sub-Committee is responsible for monitoring compliance with the Regulations. It examines the national laws provided to the IWC as well as the reports on breaches by governments. The Sub-Committee also examines reports on the availability, sources and trade in whale products.