Fisheries, Aquaculture, & Sustainable Seafood

Japanese whaling in Antarctica challenged by Australia

The final day of a 3 week hearing into Japanese whaling in Antarctica finally reached an end on Tuesday.  But don’t hold your breath for the outcome – the court may take 4 – 6 months to make a decision.

It’s been a heated debate.  Japan argues that sustainable whaling is a fundamental objective of the International Whaling Commission – the voluntary body in which all of this is being debated. And they might be right.  Here’s some snippets from the preamble of the convention the nations signed up to

“it is in the common interest to achieve the optimum level of whale stocks as rapidly as possible without causing widespread economic and nutritional distress”

“establish a system of international regulation for the whale fisheries to ensure proper and effective conservation and development of whale stocks”

“to provide for the proper conservation of whale stocks and thus make  possible the orderly development of the whaling industry”

Under the terms of the convention, scientific research is allowed, and this is exactly what Australia’s argument is based on.  Japan’s research, Australia claims is “a heap of body parts taken from a large number of dead whales”.   Japan’s response?  “This court is a court of law not a court of scientific truth”.

Whether Australia win or lose the outcome may be the same.  Japan have already indicated that they would leave the IWC if they cannot continue their whaling operations under the terms of the commission.  The larger question may be is it better to have Japan in the IWC or out.

Dr Tony Press of the University of Tasmania has provided an overview of the hearing

Image: An adult and sub-adult Minke whale are dragged aboard the Nisshin Maru, The wound that is visible on the calf’s side was reportedly caused by an explosive-packed harpoon.

Credit Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (CC-BY-SA-3.0)

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