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Japan UN-Court-Ordered to Halt Whaling

Japan UN-Court-Ordered to Halt Whaling

In a triumphant move for conservationists seeking to protect whales from unnecessary threat, Japan has been banned from whaling in the Southern Ocean until their programme has been redesigned, by the United Nations’ International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The ICJ is made up of 15 judges, as well as the Presiding Judge Peter Tomka who read out the Court’s 12-4 ruling against Japan’s ‘scientific’ whaling.

In 1986, Japan signed something called a moratorium on whaling, meaning that they agreed they were prohibited from doing so, and were only allowed to continue taking or killing whales that were being used for scientific research.

It was brought to the attention of the Court that, since 2005, Japan had caught an astonishing 3,600 minke whales since the current programme started nine years, but the scientific output didn’t correspond with this number. Japan also couldn’t justify the need for catching 850 minke whales in its current Antarctica programme, either, nor the 50 humpback and 50 fin whales.

All of this threw Japan’s claims that the whaling was for scientific research into doubt, and so the Court decided to prohibit the whaling until further notice, until a new programme has been designed that is maybe smaller, or looks into methods of studying the whale populations that mean the whales don’t have to be killed. The Court also ordered any existing whaling permits to be cancelled.

Although the Court decision is a definite victory for environmental groups against whaling, and for Australia who started these proceedings back in May 2010. It doesn’t mean that whaling will come completely to an end, though, because Japan has a smaller programme going on in the northern Pacific at the moment, but the recent result does make it more likely that this – and other programmes around the world being operated by other countries – are more likely to be challenged.

“I am absolutely over the moon, for all those people who wanted to see the charade of scientific whaling cease once and for all,” said Peter Garrett, who was the Environment Minister for Australia between 2007 and 2010. “I think [the court ruling] means without any shadow of a doubt that we will not see the taking of whales in the Southern Ocean in the name of science.”

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