Japan’s scientific whaling ended, but loophole remains

By AAP with AG staff April 1, 2014
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Japan’s controversial whaling program has been banned, but the loophole still exists

JAPAN’S SCIENTIFIC WHALING program has been ended by the International Court of Justice, but there are concerns the nation may devise other ways of continuing whaling.

An international law expert warns Japan might redesign its whaling program to skirt an International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling that its annual Southern Ocean hunt is not a scientific program.

University of Western Sydney Professor Steven Freeland said the ruling may not put an absolute end to the issue.

He pointed out that the ICJ had confirmed that scientific research can include the killing of whales.

“The problem for Japan was its failure to take proper account of non-lethal methods of research or to justify the actual catch numbers it had declared,” he said in a statement.

“Japan may instead take a very close look at why its implementation of (its research program) fell foul of its legal obligations and perhaps seek to design and ultimately implement a new whaling program that takes into account all of those elements.”

Diplomacy on whaling issue still important

Former Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus called on the federal government to work with Japan on non-lethal whaling research.

Mr Dreyfus, who was involved in arguing the case, agreed that “on paper” the judgment could leave the door open for the slaughter of some whales.

“I’m calling on the government to work with Japan on non-lethal research, so that there won’t be killings of whales in the Southern Ocean ever again,” he told ABC Radio on Tuesday.

Australian scientists already pursue non-lethal scientific whale research using satellite trackers to monitor movements and diet.

Meanwhile, Japan says it is not planning to walk out of the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

Japan’s chief negotiator Koji Tsuruoka, stressed Tokyo had been an active member of the commission for more than 60 years.

He said although it had been riddled by internal divisions, Japan had maintained a constructive role within the IWC.

Asked whether Japan would therefore rule out abandoning international agreements, Mr Tsuruoka said: “Please don’t put words into my mouth.”

He said officials would read Monday’s court decision carefully and only then “consider what appropriate course of action we should take”.

Whaling ruling welcomed by Sea Shepherd

Sea Shepherd Australia says it’s been vindicated by the International Court of Justice which ruled against Japan’s whaling program.

The court demanded Japan cease its whaling program, effective immediately, as it didn’t comply with the country’s obligations under the international whaling convention.

Sea Shepherd Australia Managing Director Jeff Hanson says the decision vindicates Sea Shepherd for not only upholding Australian federal laws, but also international laws in defending the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary for whales and for future generations.

He says in a statement in the absence of law enforcement in the Southern Ocean, Sea Shepherd has been the only organisation upholding the law in defence of the International Whale Sanctuary.