Whaling at present

In 1982, the International Whaling Commission agreed to a worldwide ban of commercial whaling, known as “whaling moratorium”, which set catch limits for large whales at zero. However, three countries are using legal loopholes of the IWC and are killing large whales for commercial purposes: In 1982, Norway lodged an official reservation to the moratorium, Iceland left the IWC and re-joined in 2003 with an objection against the moratorium – which makes both countries legally not bound to it. Japan, in contrary, claims its whaling operations as “scientific” whaling under “special permit”, although the hunted whales are immediately processed and their meat is sold in supermarkets and distributed to lunchrooms in Japan.

Present catch quotas and numbers of landed whales (Commercial whaling):

CountryWhale speciesCatch quotaNo. killed whalescomment
NorwayMinke whalesFor 2015:
1286
in 2015:
660
quota has steadily increased since 1993; however, number of whaling vessels declining
IcelandMinke whales
Fin whales
For 2015:
229
154
in 2015:
29
155
quota runs out end of 2013
Japan
North Pacific
Minke whales
Bryde’s whales
Sei whales
Sperm whales
340
50
100
10
2012/2013:
74
34
100
3
“Scientific whaling” of large whales (to be sold in Japanese supermarkets).
Small cetaceans: Japan authorizes an annual catch quota for about 15,000 small cetaceans (mainly Dall’s porpoises, striped, spotted, bottlenose and Risso’s dolphins). However, in recent years the number of capture dropped down to about 3-6,000.
Japan
Antarctic
Minke whales
Fin whales
Humpbacks
850 +10%
50
50
2012/2013:
103
0
0
“Scientific whaling” of large whales with strong commercial characteristics (factory ship processing whales at sea for supermarkets).

Present catch quotas and numbers of landed whales (Aboriginal Substistence Whaling):

CountryWhale speciesCatch quotaNo. killed whales comment
Denmark
Minke whales
Bowhead whales
Fin whales
Humpbacks
in 2012:
180
2
10
9
in 2012:
152
0
5
10
For 2013 and following years so far no ASW quota granted (decision by IWC 64).
small cetaceans: up to 4,000 belugas, narwhals, orcas, and pilot whales are annually killed
Russia
Bowhead whales
Gray whales
in 2012:
67*
140*
in 2012:
0
143
* quota to be shared with USA
USA
Bowhead whales
Gray whales
in 2012:
67*
140*
in 2012:
69
0
* quota to be shared with USA
Small cetaceans: An average of 331 beluga whales are killed annually in Alaska.
St. Vincent & Grenadines
Humpbacks
in 2012:
4
in 2012:
2
CanadaBowhead whales2?Not an IWC member state, but self-allocated ASW quota for Inuit in Nunavut

The commercial whaling moratorium does not apply to whaling of indigenous groups to cover their proven subsistence need. The IWC regularly provides quotas for a five year period in case the needs statements are satisfying and the quotas do not harm the survival of the targeted whale stocks. At present, Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling (ASW) quotas are given to indigenous communities in Chukotka (Russia), Alaska (USA) and Bequia (St. Vincent and the Grenadines). While in the past Greenland always had received an ASW quota, in 2012, when the old quota ended, its request for a higher quota was denied by the IWC, due to insufficient needs documentation, and Greenland refused to accept the previous quota, leaving it without any quota from 2013 on.