UN International Court of Justice Bans Japan Whaling Activities

In May 2010, Australia brought forth the claim that Japan’s whaling programme in the Antarctic was commercial in nature, masked as a scientific endeavor. The UN International Court of Justice (ICJ) therefore ruled that Japan should put a stop to its whaling activities in the south polar oceans. Japan had complied grudgingly to the decision, arguing that it only accepts it regrettably.

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Judge Peter Tomka announced the judgement of the court yesterday. Japan will no more be able to carry out whaling activities in the Antarctic seas. All existing permits and licenses whatsoever have to be withdrawn, and new ones cannot be issued by the country. Japan focused their works on Minke whales. According to Japan, Minke whales do not constitute an endangered species to justify their whaling activities. The slaughtered whales were then commercially sold for their meat. The court judged that Japan’s scientific output was too limited relative to the number of whales it had caught – 3600 of them.

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Picture depicting minke whales

Back in 1986, countries had signed a moratorium on whaling. Japan was one of them. Many countries have shown opposition to whaling, Australia being a strong proponent of conservation programmes. However, an agreement was struck so that Japan could engage in whaling activities in the north and south of Pacific ocean for scientific purposes. Other countries though, like Norway and Iceland, had continued with their commercial whaling activities.

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