Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Victory on whaling

Last night, the International Court of Justice ruled that Japan's "scientific" whaling program was illegal:

Activists are claiming victory after the International Court of Justice ordered Japan to stop its Antarctic whaling programme, but warn the fight may not be over.

Judges at the highest United Nations court have ordered Japan to halt their annual hunt in the Antarctic, rejecting the country's long-held argument that the catch was for scientific purposes and not primarily for human consumption.


The court concluded, in a judgment released overnight, that Japan's JARPA II programme was not "for purposes of scientific research" as allowed under Article 8 of the 1946 International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling.

[Former IWC chair Geoffrey] Palmer said the ruling was the strongest seen so far.

But the court could not rewrite the treaty, and Japan was technically able to continue whaling if it created a new programme that met the court's tests.

The latter is important: the court has stopped the whaling program in its present form. But Japan could revive it by killing fewer whales, or by actually publishing the results rather than simply eating the meat. Though we can expect any new program to come under intense scrutiny to see whether it is consistent with the court's ruling.

Meanwhile, the National government is trying to claim some of the glory from this, but its worth remembering: National originally didn't want to get involved in the case (because they value sucking up to Japan above the environment), and only intervened in it in late 2012. Strong opposition? I think not.