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Home* Antarctic News → “Sci­en­ti­fic” wha­ling sen­ten­ced by Inter­na­tio­nal Court of Jus­ti­ce

“Sci­en­ti­fic” wha­ling sen­ten­ced by Inter­na­tio­nal Court of Jus­ti­ce

A recent sen­tence by the Inter­na­tio­nal Court of Jus­ti­ce in The Hague may not have stop­ped Japa­ne­se wha­ling in Ant­ar­c­ti­ca final­ly, but it has at least given it a serious legal blow. It is now estab­lished by the hig­hest inter­na­tio­nal court that Japa­ne­se wha­ling in its cur­rent form (!) is not cover­ed by exemp­ti­ons for sci­en­ti­fic wha­ling as defi­ned by the Inter­na­tio­nal Wha­ling Com­mis­si­on.

Japan is issuing licen­ses for kil­ling wha­les despi­te a mora­to­ri­um against wha­ling of 1986. Japa­ne­se aut­ho­ri­ties cla­im sci­en­ti­fic reasons, but the kil­ling of about 3600 wha­les has resul­ted in only 2 peer-review­ed sci­en­ti­fic publi­ca­ti­ons. Accor­ding to the Court in The Hague, this is not suf­fi­ci­ent to jus­ti­fy the num­ber of wha­les kil­led.

Each year, Japa­ne­se aut­ho­ri­ties issue licen­ces for more than 1000 wha­les to be har­poo­ned. Most of the­se, about 950, are Mink wha­les, fol­lo­wed by Hump­back and Fin wha­les with about 50 each. The­se num­bers have often not been com­ple­ted, thanks to the acti­vi­ties of inter­na­tio­nal envi­ron­men­ta­lists such as Sea She­p­herd.

Accor­ding to the recent sen­tence, Japa­ne­se wha­ling is cle­ar­ly against the 1986 mora­to­ri­um on wha­ling. Youn­ger histo­ry has shown in many cases that inter­na­tio­nal law does not keep govern­ments from doing wha­te­ver they want, but Japa­ne­se offi­ci­als have announ­ced that they want to respect the sen­tence. This may, howe­ver, also mean that the cur­rent wha­ling pro­gram­me may be repla­ced by a new, “sci­en­ti­fic” one. If so, the new one would, at least, include a signi­fi­cant­ly redu­ced num­ber of wha­les to be kil­led and more non-lethal rese­arch efforts. Time will have to show if such a pro­gram­me would be attrac­ti­ve enough for Japa­ne­se wha­ling ships to take the long trip into Ant­ar­c­tic waters. The cur­rent aut­hor stron­gly belie­ves that cer­tain­ly the wha­les and the mari­ne envi­ron­ment, but also the repu­ta­ti­on and cre­di­bi­li­ty of sci­ence in gene­ral would bene­fit from a com­ple­te stop of Japa­ne­se (and other) wha­ling.

Hump­back wha­les in Ant­ar­c­ti­ca: not yet safe from Japa­ne­se har­poons, but the­re is hope.

Humpback whales, Antarctica

Source: Spie­gel Online

last modification: 2014-03-31 · copyright: Rolf Stange