The Soviet whaling industry was created in 1932, but for many years it consisted of a single fleet working in the Russian Far East. Beginning in 1946, the USSR began to expand this industry and a few years later Soviet fleets started a campaign of illegal whaling that lasted for three decades and which – together with the poorly managed “legal” whaling of other nations – devastated whale populations worldwide. The MOSCOW (Memoirs Of Soviet Catches Of Whales) project was initiated to preserve the memories and photographs of biologists, whalers and other individuals who worked in the industry during this period.

Although the true Soviet whaling catch record has been reasonably well reconstructed for the Southern Hemisphere, major gaps remain for the North Pacific, where large numbers of whales were also killed. In the MOSCOW Project, we are attempting to fill in these gaps through interviews with former biologists and whalers, and searches of existing archives. We also endeavor to describe other aspects of the whaling, including operational methods, the social and economic contexts of the hunt, and the details of catches within specific areas and populations. Such documentation is essential to a full understanding of the impact of the catches on whale populations, and to current assessments of their recovery status by the International Whaling Commission and other management bodies. Many details have relevance to current whale conservation planning, and also serve to maintain a focus on the importance of developing true transparency and monitoring within the whaling industry today.

On this site you will find articles about Soviet whaling and its consequences, together with galleries of photographs and other materials kept by individuals who spent some portion of their working life aboard Soviet whaling fleets. We welcome contributions of novel information or material about Soviet whaling or related matters… please contact us using the link provided.
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