In several parts of the world, whale products play an important role in the nutritional and cultural life of native peoples. Since its inception, the IWC has recognized that indigenous or ‘aboriginal subsistence’ whaling is of a different nature to commercial whaling. It is thus not subject to the moratorium (16).
|A Native American painting from circa. 1870 (23)|
North American and Russian indigenous peoples have hunted gray whales for centuries and perhaps even for as much as 2000 years (30,32). The discovery of the winter breeding grounds off the coast of Baja California, Mexico by Yankee whalers led to the decimation of the gray whale population between 1846-1873 (36). They were driven to apparent commercial extinction by 1893 (36). Modern commercial whaling of gray whales begin in 1910 and ended in 1946 with the addition of gray whales to the Endangered Species List (36).