• Sun
  • Dec 28, 2014
  • Updated: 2:34pm

UN court rules Japan’s Antarctic whaling ‘not scientific’, revokes permit

PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 March, 2014, 6:07pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 April, 2014, 5:51pm

Judges at the highest UN court ordered Japan on Monday to halt whaling in the Antarctic, rejecting the country’s long-held argument that the catch was for scientific purposes and not primarily for human consumption.

Tokyo said it was disappointed but would abide by the decision, while activists said they hoped it would bring closer a complete end to whaling around the world.

The International Court of Justice sided with plaintiff Australia in finding that the scientific output of the whaling programme did not justify the number of whales killed.

The tribunal said no further licences should be issued for scientific whaling, where animals are first examined for research purposes before the meat is sold to consumers.

“In light of the fact the JARPA II [research programme] has been going on since 2005, and has involved the killing of about 3,600 minke whales, the scientific output to date appears limited,” Presiding Judge Peter Tomka of Slovakia said.

Watch: Japan says will honour ICJ whaling decision

Japan signed a 1986 moratorium on whaling, but has continued to hunt up to 850 minke whales in the icy waters of the Southern Ocean, as well as smaller numbers of fin and humpback whales, citing a 1946 treaty that permits killing the giant mammals for research.

Japan was “deeply disappointed” by the ruling, but it would comply, said Koji Tsuruoka, the country’s chief lawyer before the court. He said the government would need to study the ruling before taking any further action.

Judges agreed with Australia that the research – two peer reviewed papers since 2005, based on results obtained from just nine killed whales – was not proportionate to the number of animals killed.

The judgment is an embarrassment to Japan, but Tokyo could continue whaling if it devised a new, more persuasive programme of scientific that required “lethal catch” of whales, or if it withdrew from the whaling moratorium or the 1946 International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling.

Whaling was once widespread around the world, but Japan is now one of only three countries, alongside Iceland and Norway, that continue the practice. The meat is popular with Japanese consumers who consider it a delicacy.

Norway, the other main whaling nation, in 1993 shifted away from scientific whaling to “commercial” catches, where the meat is sold directly to consumers.

Norway set a quota of 1,286 minke whales in the north Atlantic last year’s summer hunt, saying stocks are plentiful in the region. Fishermen rarely catch the full quota, partly because demand has sunk in recent years.

Iceland and Norway do not claim to be carrying out research, openly hunting whale meat for commercial purposes, meaning the ICJ’s ruling has no immediate consequences for them. But activists said the ruling reflected a gradually changing climate that would put an end to whaling.

“Whaling is under immense scrutiny from the international community, and the pincer movement on these countries is ever tightening,” said Claire Bass, wildlife campaigner at the World Society for the Protection of Animals.


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This article is now closed to comments

Max Diethelm
Japanese hunting of endangered whales is unacceptable. Japan should stop lying about this and stop lying about everything else including her barbaric war history. Shameless Japan.
bravo !!!...its about time ...i applaud the decision....
all those fake scientific research is nothing more than to fulfill their empty stomach....
next stop ...dolphin massacre and lets not forget man's best friend and cats...its about time .......
This is wonderful! Well done the UN. Well done Australia for pushing back against this slaughter. Well done to Greenpeace who have spent years actively protesting and drawing attention to the annual whale slaughter.
about time.
Japanese claims about scientific whaling are just lies. Japan lies about everything including not forcing hundred of thousands of women to become sex-slaves in WWII. When the world hears anything from Japan better not be fooled because it could be all lies.
Bravo for this justified ruling..............the Japanese have always been inhumane to humanity and now they are simply doing the same to these whales. All simply because they probably want to keep having "delicacy sashimi"........ Glad that there are people in the world that can see the Japanese are nothing but liars and cheats.
Eating of shark fins must be stopped. Also eating of beef must be banned. Cows are considered holy in Hinduism. As for whales, for every whale that Japan kills, Japan must be fined 1 Billion USD and the fine donated to the victims of Japanese Barbarism in Asia during the invasion and occupation of Asia by Imperial Japan.
well max...you are so spot on ....
What about shark fins? The way these sharks die is cruel and the worst punishment.
Great Decision - to attempt to hide under the guise of scientific research was a complete joke, and a lie.
Japan has defended eating whale meat as well as the slaughter of dolphins on the basis of long standing cultural traditions. It is wrong to rely on outdated cultural traditions.
But the world is changing, and what may have been accepted or even a tolerated sustainable (or at least not a high impact disaster for ecological/environmental reasons) practice is no longer acceptable nor desirable.
So whether it is whaling by Japan/Norway/Iceland, Sharks Fin consumption anywhere in the world (but mostly in China) or any other egregious and harmful/selfish practices - people need to wake up and change before it is too late.



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