Environmental affairs official Herman Oosthuizen has been appointed South Africa's commissioner to the International Whaling Commission (IWC), it was announced on Monday.

Oosthuizen, who has studied marine mammals for nearly 25 years, had attended IWC meetings since 2000, said the Environmental affairs department.

He was head of the scientific delegation and alternate commissioner at the IWC between 2000 and 2004, and acted as IWC Commissioner in 2005 at the annual IWC meeting in Korea.

The IWC was set up under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling signed in Washington on December 2, 1946.

The convention aims to provide for the proper conservation of whale stocks to make possible the orderly development of the whaling industry.

The IWC's main duty is to review and revise measures in the schedule to the convention, which governs the conduct of whaling throughout the world.

They protect certain species, designate specified areas as whale sanctuaries, set limits on the numbers and size of whales which may be taken, prescribe open and closed seasons and areas for whaling, and prohibit the capture of suckling calves and female whales accompanied by calves.

They also require the compilation of catch reports and other statistical and biological records. - Sapa