Japan’s unsavory whale hunts in the Southern Ocean have been put to a screeching halt on Monday, as the World Court in the Hague, Netherlands, ruled that their “scientific” whale-hunting was “baloney.” The court ordered Japan to revoke their “scientific research” permits to all of its ships.
This order effectively forces Japan’s fleet to the dock, silencing the torpedoes, cannons and exploding bombs that have killed hundreds of thousands of whales.
Although Japan says it will abide, it is highly unlikely, they have been dishonest in their whaling tactics in the past, and probably will be in the future.
The 2013-14 whaling season has ended in Antarctica, and next year should be the first for whales who call this area their home for a big part of the year, a true safe haven. Hopefully, their sanctuary will be left in peace with the slaughter ending, finally. The hunts left three quarters of a million blue whales in this area down to only a few thousand.
Other countries, such as the UK and US, stopped whaling there long ago but Japan chose to continue in this remote area. Japan’s fabricated ‘research’ exclusion to the sanctuary law has continued since the moratorium on commercial whaling came into effect in 1986, and followed with more than 10,000 minke whales killed in the Southern Ocean.
Even after the decision by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to declare the Southern Ocean a sanctuary for whales, it was not enough to stop Japan’s whaling. Twenty-three nations voted in favor of the sanctuary at the 1994 meeting of the IWC and only Japan voted against.
In 2012, Japan’s Fisheries Agency director explained that minke whale meat is, “prized because it is said to have a very good flavor and aroma when eaten as sashimi and the like.” He added that, “the scientific whaling program … was necessary to achieve a stable supply of minke whale meat.” In other words, the program is not “for the purpose” of scientific research.
As for the quality of the research, the court noted with understatement, “Japan points to only two peer-reviewed papers… since 2005 and has involved the killing of about 3,600 minke whales, so the scientific output to date appears limited.”
The Court Judgment contains a simple decision that Japan has failed to meet three binding decisions of the IWC. Their special permits do not fall within the provisions of the IWC regarding ‘scientific whaling’.
In a 12-to-4 judgment, the court found that Japan was in breach of its international obligations by catching and killing minke whales and issuing permits for hunting humpback and fin whales within the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, established by the IWC.
“I am so pleased that after a decade of anti-whaling campaigns in the Antarctic and Southern Ocean, we won’t have to go there again,” he said from his home in Vermont.
Adding, “We feel vindicated, this has always been an illegal whale hunt, I’ve always felt that way and for the International Court of Justice to agree and for people to see that this has been the right thing to pursue, well, that’s just great.”
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