For those of you of a mind to read in some depth the issue of of whaling history, I would commend to you two papers available at the U.S. Department of Commerce Marine Fisheries Review where Phil Clapham and Yulia Ivashchenko's paper 'A Whale of a Deception' , a document that further details the illegal destruction of whale populations by Soviet Whalers in the Twentieth Century - whalers who set about killing every whale they could find.
The whaling fleets devastated populations of many species, but the Southern humpbacks were hit more heavily than any other species. Whilst the Soviets reported that they had taken some 2,710 humpbacks, the real total was 48,646. This is especially poignant with Japan recently threatening to hunt humpbacks again, and Greenland seeking to increase its quota to include humpbacks.
The Soviets were not the only ones guilty of such misrepresentation as Japan also falsified some of its coastal catch of sperm and Bryde’s whale up to at least 1987 (SC/54/013), but as the authors note, it was nowhere on the scale of the Soviets.
Others do bear some of the blame for the Soviet massacre as noted in the original revelations by Alexey Yablokov (in 1993, 1995, and 2000). The IWC had failed until the 1970s to insist on independent observers being on board all whaling vessels. Also someone was buying a lot of the whales that the Soviets were killing illegally and yet no one was complaining about the amount of whale meat that was available.
However, these stories remind us of why any whaling should have rigorous independent inspection and enforcement provisions, because the temptations to cheat are just too great. Of course the easiest option is to avoid temptation at all and not go whaling in the first place ☺