Thursday, 20 September 2018

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Whale Warrior satisfied with verdict against Japanese scientific whaling in Antarctica

Whale Warrior satisfied with verdict against Japanese scientific whaling in Antarctica

On 31 March 2014 The International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands banned Japan’s scientific whaling program in Antarctica. Anti-whaling activists, Whale Warrior and regular visitor to the Coromandel, Pete Bethune and Laurens De Groot were at The Hague to witness the historic ruling.

The verdict, Bethune said, brutally killed off Japan’s claims of scientific research and in doing so, has ended whaling in Antarctica - bringing to a close the conservation war fought on many fronts since 1987. “It was an epic day, history was made and I’m really happy to have played a part.”

Bethune and De Groot nearly lost their lives in 2010 when the Sea Shepherd protest boat, the Ady Gil was run over by a Japanese whaling ship in Antarctic waters. After the incident, Bethune boarded the Japanese vessel at night from a jet ski - launching himself into the darkness towards the ship’s massive stern.

His plan, to arrest the ship’s captain to attract media attention to Japan’s illegal whaling activities, landed him in a Japanese jail. International media followed the controversial ramming incident and Bethune’s ensuing court case.

The public was riled and the topic was discussed on talk back radio, in newspapers, forums and on social networking sites around the world.

“Greenpeace for many years was alone in battling the Japanese in Antarctica. More recently it was Sea Shepherd that took up the baton and their relentless games of hide and seek and then follow the leader with Japanese whalers in the Southern Ocean helped keep whaling in the public consciousness,” Bethune said. 

Australia’s Peter Garret, ex lead singer of Midnight Oil and Minister for the Environment (2007-2010) proposed the unprecedented step of legal action against Japan.

Cajoled by Senator Bob Brown and the Greens, the Australian government backed Garrett’s proposal and four years later in The Hague, the case Whaling in the Antarctic (Australia v Japan: New Zealand intervening) was won.

Japan has since cancelled its 2014 - 2015 Antarctic whale hunt.

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) recognizes four types of whaling - commercial, aboriginal subsistence, whaling under “objection,” and Article 8, “scientific” whaling. It was the latter type of whaling that Japan was claiming to have been carrying out in Antarctica.

The court ruled that Japan’s scientific whaling in Antarctica did not comply with the IWC definition of scientific permit whaling, was in contravention of the IWC moratorium on commercial whaling and factory ship whaling and was in contravention of the IWC Southern Ocean Sanctuary.

Japan could not demonstrate the actual quota it allocated itself was appropriate for the science it claimed it was carrying out. The Court criticised Japan for not investigating appropriately whether non-lethal methods of study could replace the need to kill whales and noted that after 16 years of killing whales in Antarctica, Japan had only published two peer-reviewed articles.

Bethune said he felt “awfully satisfied” with the verdict. “In many ways we all share in this victory. Individuals, teams, NGOs, media, governments - all have played key roles in ending something most of us knew to be wrong. It is also a lesson to us all that we can affect change.  If the world can stop whaling in Antarctica - well there is no telling what else we are also capable of doing.”

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