Mehvish Khan, A Review of Whales, Whaling History and Whaling Regulations: A Literature Review
Faculty Chair: Dr. John Tucker
Literature Review Abstract
Whaling has existed for centuries, though it was not until the 1600s that whaling began to rise as an industry eventually capping as an industry around the 1900s. The advent of faster ships and better methods of capture and weaponry resulted in the decimation and near extinction of several whale species and populations, resulting in a long line of legislative activity, both nationally and internationally. Internationally, there are several acts including the 1931 Convention for the Regulation of Whaling and the 1946 International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, the two main pieces of legislation concerning whaling, the latter of which created the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Other international agreements such as the Convention for the International Trade in Endangered Species and the United Nations Conventions on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) may also provide some protection for whales. However, international trade agreements, such as the General Agreement for Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) may conflict with national laws intended to protect and conserve whales. In the United States, the Marine Mammal Protection Act protects whale species, and the Pelly and Packwood-Magnuson Amendments can help in some cases by proposing sanctions against another nation. Enforcement and compliances is a problem as it is primarily left to member nations, and dispute resolution can be left to international courts.
Currently there is a split in the IWC between preservationist nations and conservationist nations. At the 2006 IWC meeting, the St. Kitts and Nevis Declaration was passed by thirty nations and essentially proposes that commercial whaling should be phased in again. Though the resolution is not legally binding at this point, it is one step closer toward resuming commercial whaling, and economic issues, such as ecotourism and whalewatching on whales. Legislative protection for whales had come at both the national and international levels, but only time will tell which direction the IWC and whaling will take in the future.