Japan to Stop Hunting Whales in Southern Sanctuary

B. McPherson
Sea Shepherd, Australia and other conservationists cheer the court decision
Score one for the whales in the Southern Sanctuary. The UN International Court of Justice(ICJ) has ruled that Japan’s whaling fleet is not engaging in scientific research in its forays to the Southern Ocean.

Australia brought the matter of the Japanese whalers to the international court to rule whether the killing of whales – up to 1000 each season – was for scientific purposes which is allowed, or for commercial purposes which is not.

The Japanese government has maintained that they need to harpoon whales for science. The selling of whale meat in the markets there is simply a by product of the activity. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has been front and centre for the past decade trying to stop the slaughter of the cetaceans. This season, the group that has been fighting, literally, the whalers have named their group Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Australia due to legal tangles.

The Sea Shepherd activists have been relentlessly pursued by the Japanese legal system to entangle and thwart their efforts to stop the killing. Since 2005, Japan admits to killing about 3600 whales in what is supposed to be a safe area for the whales. To help justify their actions, they have resorted to painting, in English, the word “Research” on their factory ship.

While the Sea Shepherd activists have been engaged in the Antarctic, interfering with the kill, the Australian government brought suit in 2010. Australia had offered to share their scientific work with the Japanese and to also share the Australian methods of obtaining information without killing the whales. Those offers had been rejected.

Japan has agreed to abide by the ruling while expressing regret at the court’s decision.


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