I have been following this issue for a while. A couple of months ago I noted that back in February 2010 John Key said that he had a potential solution to solving the whaling crisis which he would discuss with Hillary Clinton and that he would take his plan to the upcoming International Whaling Commission meeting. Regrettably nothing ever came of it. As Eddie commented at the time it appeared that Key was talking out of his arse. It subsequently transpired that Key had formed the view that to save the whales you had to kill the whales.
Australia took a contrary position and decided to test Japan’s claim that its whaling was for scientific purposes to the International Court of Justice. Resolution of the issue is important because under article 8 of the International Convention for the regulation of whaling killing for scientific research is allowed. In particular:
[A]ny Contracting Government may grant to any of its nationals a special permit authorizing that national to kill, take and treat whales for purposes of scientific research subject to such restrictions as to number and subject to such other conditions as the Contracting Government thinks fit, and the killing, taking, and treating of whales in accordance with the provisions of this Article shall be exempt from the operation of this Convention.
The International Court of Justice has now ruled Japan’s current practice illegal. From the Herald:
The future of whaling in Japan was thrown into doubt after the International Court of Justice ruled Monday that the nation’s annual hunt in the Antarctic was not really for scientific purposes as Tokyo had claimed and ordered it halted.
The ruling was a major victory for whaling opponents, as it ends for now one of the world’s biggest whale hunts, for minkes in the icy Southern Ocean. The judgment was praised by Australia, which brought the case against Japan in 2010, and by environmentalists, who have been seeking an end to whaling since the 1970s on ethical grounds.
The world court’s decision leaves Japan with a tough choice between ending whaling outright despite past claims that it would never abandon such a deep-seated cultural practice or redesigning its program to make it a scientific endeavor after all.
In a lengthy ruling, the presiding judge in the Hague, Peter Tomka, said Japan had failed to prove that its pursuit of hundreds of mainly minke whales in Antarctic waters every winter – under a programme known as Jarpa II – was for scientific purposes.
“The evidence does not establish that the programme’s design and implementation are reasonable in relation to achieving its stated objectives,” Tomka said.
“The court concludes that the special permits granted by Japan for the killing, taking and treating of whales in connection with Jarpa II are not for purposes of scientific research,” he added, before ordering Japan to cease its whaling programme “with immediate effect”.
Congratulations to all involved. But we will need to see if Japan tries to continue the practice of whale killing under some newly designed scheme.