The International Whaling Commission (IWC) was set up under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling which was signed in Washington DC on 2nd December 1946. The purpose of the Convention is to provide for the proper conservation of whale stocks and thus make possible the orderly development of the whaling industry.
The main duty of the IWC is to keep under review and revise as necessary the measures laid down in the Schedule to the Convention which govern the conduct of whaling throughout the world. These measures, among other things, provide for the complete protection of certain species; designate specified areas as whale sanctuaries; set limits on the numbers and size of whales which may be taken; prescribe open and closed seasons and areas for whaling; and prohibit the capture of suckling calves and female whales accompanied by calves. The compilation of catch reports and other statistical and biological records is also required.
In addition, the Commission encourages, co-ordinates and funds whale research, publishes the results of scientific research and promotes studies into related matters such as the humaneness of the killing operations.