Wednesday 12 January 2011

Australia to present court case against Japanese whaling this year

On 31 June 2010 the Australian Government instituted proceedings against the Government of Japan before the International Court of Justice: Whaling in the Antarctic - Australia v. Japan.

The basis of the Court action is that Japan continues to breach both its IWC obligations and its other international obligations for 'the preservation of marine mammals and marine environment'.

Australia draws attention to Japan's failure to observe the commercial whaling moratorium in good faith by using the special permit or scientific whaling loophole in its Southern Ocean whaling program (JARPA II). It also highlights the continuation of commercial-level whaling within an IWC-declared Whale Sanctuary (the Southern Ocean Sanctuary) and the fact that the target species include humpback and endangered fin whales.

Australia contends that JARPA II has no relevance for the conservation and management of whales and 'cannot be justified' and calls upon the Court to instruct Japan to terminate the program completely.

The Court has now set a deadline of 9 May 2011 for Australia for file its case, and provides Japan ten months to officially respond. Given the nature of the processes and proceedings in the International Court of Justice, it is likely to be 2013 before a judgement is handed down. While that might seem a long way off, it is a positive step that Australia has taken, and does not prevent other and diplomatic negotiations and actions from taking place in the meantime.


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