Advancement of scientific knowledge justifies the increasing importance of animal welfare. Science shows that the suffering in animals exists and ethics encourages us to take this into consideration. With regard to cetaceans, scientific research shows that their biology is very special, which makes the issue of their welfare indispensable.

Studies show that these animals have a complex nervous system and are very sensitive to pain and stress. Moreover, some species show an intelligence, emotional capacity and self-awareness comparable to those of apes and elephants. Cetaceans are social animals that have strong ties with members of their group. These characteristics make it impossible to dismiss the ethical aspects of cetacean conservation irrespective of the threats involved.

Hunting and capture of cetaceans give rise to many problems pertaining to welfare and ethics. IWC seeks to provide answers to these problems.