Reviews in Fisheries Science
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Prior to the development of commercial whaling, several indigenous communities undertook hunts of whales to fulfill their subsistence needs. Fortunately, the two international conventions that implemented the regulation of commercial whaling did not lose sight of the needs of these aboriginal communities. How this was done, as well as the eventual evolution of the management of aboriginal whaling, is summarized in this review. The record shows that, whether in terms of exempting these aboriginal hunts from required management actions or of setting precautionary catch limits for otherwise protected stocks, an overriding management principle has emerged wherein international managers have been willing to accept conservation risks for aboriginal hunts that they otherwise would not assume for commercial operations. Although these risks were accepted, it was done at the cost to the aboriginal hunters of undertaking conservation measures often not applied to commercial hunts. While it is not clear from the record whether this guiding principle arose explicitly or implicitly, it is nevertheless explicitly clear that it has been and continues to be applied, and successfully so, when considering the conservation of the affected stocks.