History of Whaling

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History of Whaling

History of whaling


Whale products have been used for a long time. Significant phases of revolutions in whaling remain useful despite the change of uses. Whale products include whalebone, baleen, meat and oil. Whaling history revolves among different countries not limited to the continent. There are different ways in which countries have viewed the whaling industry which led disagreements while others joined in safeguarding whale species. This paper discusses the history of whaling that has been in place since 1800.


In the 18th century, the United States of America and the Great Britain owned the largest whaling fleets. There was a need to form a body that would regulate whaling industry. While whaling was an important part of the economy, it posed a threat due to lack of control. International Convention for Regulation of Whaling was conducted in 1946. It is during this time that International Whaling Commission was formed (Baylis, Smith, & Owens, 2013). There was room for non-whaling and whaling countries to become members. There were around fifteen states that had registered as members by 1970.

The International Whaling Commission was meant to regulate activities that involved whaling. The commission prepared the schedule for the whaling seasons. Schedules were supposed to control the global catch quotas. Controlled whaling would ensure that whales were not endangered species. IWC determined the length of the fishing season. The whaling commission also put in place partial moratoriums. The commission would need around seventy-five percent of members so that they can amend the whaling schedule. Some countries would object to the whaling schedules since it was not mandatory to meet the standards globally (Annual Report of the International Whaling Commission, Volumes 58-59, 2016).

There has been a change of events where the countries have turned from the management of whaling to the conservation of the species. The latter resulted from depleted stocks of a whale that saw New Zealand and the United States stop whaling. The rise of Non-Governmental organisations that campaigned against whaling led to changes in the whaling industry. For instance, a moratorium that would affect commercial whaling was put in place in 1972. US unilateralism saw restrictions imposed on international fishing activities that would reduce the effectiveness of fishery conservation on an international level. There was a declaration by the state secretary of commerce that effectiveness of International Whaling Commission was diminishing.

Thus, in 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act was implemented. South Korea, Chile, Taiwan and Peru who were Non-IWC members joined Pelly Amendment. In the same period, there was a rise in many whaling states joining the commission. Consequently, there was an increase in participation of states that were non-whaling states. Kenya, Seychelles, Oman, Egypt were among the states that participated in IWC.

Commercial whaling moratorium was adopted in 1982 and was fully effected on 1986. Countries such as Russia, Japan and Peru Objected. Despite Norway objection on moratorium in 1987, there was a break from commercial whaling. Norway resumed whaling in 1993. In spite of Iceland withdraw in 1992 the country did not engage in whaling. The state intended to whale again in 2006. Japan has also been whaling for scientific research(Morikawa, 2009).


Whaling has been in place since the 1800s. Traditionally, there were many reasons why whaling was practised. Some countries participated positively to ensure that whaling did not pose a threat to the whale species. The United States has been spearheading controlled whaling. Countries that did not agree with the ideology that related to memorandum left IWC, which was the commission that regulated whaling. There has been a rise in other conservation measures that have reduced the hazardous whaling.


Annual Report of the International Whaling Commission, Volumes 58-59. (2016). Los Angeles.

Baylis, J., Smith, S., & Owens, P. (2013). The globalization of world politics. Oxford: OUP Oxford.

Morikawa, J. (2009). Whaling in Japan. New York: Columbia University Press.