A humpback whale fresh from Antarctica in the Rurutu warm water mating grounds. Photo: Pierre Lesage via Fliuckr.com.
Japan must end 'scientific whaling' in the Antarctic
31st March 2014
The International Court of Justice has ordered Japan to revoke its 'scientific whaling' permits in the Antarctic and cease to issue new ones as they are not for scientific purposes. Next, the North Pacific ...
The Court therefore orders that Japan revoke any extant authorization, permit or licence to kill, take or treat whales in relation to JARPA II, and refrain from granting any further permits
The Court held the design and implementation of Japan's scientific research programme on whaling to be in breach of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling.
Australia took Japan to the ICJ in 2010, alleging it was intentionally taking advantage of a loophole in the 1986 commercial whaling ban by claiming it was killing the whales for scientific research. The Court has now ruled overwhelmingly in favour of Australia:
"Taken as a whole, the Court considers that JARPA II involves activities that can broadly be characterized as scientific research, but that 'the evidence does not establish that the programme's design and implementation are reasonable in relation to achieving its stated objectives'.
"The Court concludes that the special permits granted by Japan for the killing, taking and treating of whales in connection with JARPA II are not 'for purposes of scientific research' pursuant to Article VIII, paragraph 1, of the Convention."
" ... measures that go beyond declaratory relief are warranted. The Court therefore orders that Japan revoke any extant authorization, permit or licence to kill, take or treat whales in relation to JARPA II, and refrain from granting any further permits ... in pursuance of that programme."
A welcome verdict
"The decision of the court will finally allow the purpose of the Southern Ocean Sanctuary to be fulfilled", said Aimée Leslie, Global Cetacean and Marine Turtle Manager for WWF International. "Protecting whales in the Southern Ocean is essential to maintaining healthy whale populations around the world."
Clare Perry, head of EIA's Cetaceans Campaign, said: "This is an historic decision which lays to rest, once and for all, the grim travesty of Japan's so-called 'scientific' whaling and exposes it to the world as the blatant falsehood it clearly is.
"For a long time it has been evident that 'science' has been abused at a breath-taking scale to justify Japan's continued commercial hunting of protected whales and despite a heavily subsidised and ever-dwindling market for whale meat in Japan."
ClientEarth's Sarah Gregerson said: "This judgment sets a very strong standard for when scientific research legally allows whales to be killed. It requires there be clear analysis and justification of a country's decision to set quotas in the form of 'sample sizes'. According to the Court, Japan has not met this standard."
Next, the North Pacific
Welcome though the decision is, it applies only to Japan's 'scientific whaling' in the Antarctic. However Japan is running a very similar program in the North Pacific, as Clare Perry commented:
"Next, the world needs to focus its attention on Japan's whaling in the North Pacific, where it continues to issue permits to kill up to 500 whales annually in hunts using the same 'scientific' clause that has now been condemned beyond dispute by the international court."
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