IWC Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling Management Programme (ASWMP): science-based management of aboriginal whaling activities

In some parts of the world, whale products play an important role in the nutritional and cultural life of native peoples.  Four IWC member countries conduct aboriginal subsistence hunts today: Denmark (Greenland), Russia (Chukotka), St Vincent and the Grenadines (Bequia) and the United States (Alaska and also potentially a resumption of hunts previously undertaken by the Makah Tribe of Washington State).

From the outset, the IWC recognised that indigenous or aboriginal subsistence whaling is not the same as commercial whaling. Aboriginal whaling does not seek to maximise catches or profit.  It is categorised differently by the IWC and is not subject to the moratorium.  The IWC recognises that its regulations have the potential to impact significantly on traditional cultures, and great care must be taken in discharging this responsibility.

In summary, the IWC objectives for management of aboriginal subsistence whaling are to ensure that hunted whale populations are maintained at (or brought back to) healthy levels, and to enable native people to hunt whales at levels that are appropriate to cultural and nutritional requirements in the long term.