Whalehunting: Court Strikes Down Japan’s Claim + Update

Humpback whale fluke. Photo by Sarah Robinson

Humpback whale fluke. Photo by Sarah Robinson

Whales and Aussies victorious! In a decision today, The International Court of Justice (ICJ -The Hague) struck down Japan’s claim that its whalehunting forays are for science. Japan has been ordered to revoke all existing whaling licenses and not to issue any new permits. The government of Australia brought the suit. The ICJ ruling determined that no Japanese scientists had issued research publications  and there was no evidence that there had been any collaborations on cetaceans with scientists outside Japan. (Other reporting at end of story) 

 ICJ Judgment on Whaling (full judgment)

Quoted directly from the judgment:

“245. The Court observes that JARPA II is an ongoing programme. Under these circumstances, measures that go beyond declaratory relief are warranted. The Court therefore will order that Japan shall 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 under Article VIII, paragraph 1, of the Convention, in pursuance of that programme.

“246. The Court sees no need to order the additional remedy requested by Australia, which would require Japan to refrain from authorizing or implementing any special permit whaling which is not for purposes of scientific research within the meaning of Article VIII. That obligation already applies to all States parties. It is to be expected that Japan will take account of the reasoning and conclusions contained in this Judgment as it evaluates the possibility of granting any future permits under Article VIII, paragraph 1, of the Convention.”

In the 18 years since the international ban on whalehunting, Japan’s whalehunters have plied the Southern Ocean and areas off its own coast, using the excuse they were hunting to bring back research specimens. It’s estimated that 10,000 whales were taken in the Southern Ocean alone.

Save the Whale Save the Southern Ocean WWF

Save the Whale Save the Southern Ocean WWF

The government of Japan said it will abide by the ruling. Now it’s time for Norway and Iceland to stop whaling as a way of propping up their traditional fishing industry!

Other reporting on the ICJ Judgment

All Things Considered (NPR radio story) 

Australian Broadcasting story (ABC)