Australia brings its last case against the Japanese whaling program at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), 13 July 2013. Photo: AAP

By Tony Press, CEO, Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems CRC at University of Tasmania
13 July 2013

(The Conversation) – Australia had its second (and last) chance this week to argue against Japan’s whaling program in the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

But before it did, New Zealand appeared before the Court to provide its take on Japan’s obligations under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling.

Japan issues special whaling permits for its whaling program (JARPA II) under the Whaling Convention. New Zealand’s Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson argued this system of special permits is integral to collective regulation under the Whaling Convention, and was exclusively for scientific research. […]

Last week Japan accused Australia of cultural imperialism, and of backing action by activist group Sea Shepherd.

In Australia’s opening remarks Attoney-General Mark Dreyfus flatly denied these arguments. He said Japan had “made many baseless allegations of no relevance to the dispute before the Court”.

Mr Dreyfus also said that Australia had not “colluded” with New Zealand to bring the case before the International Court of Justice.

Japan, Mr Dreyfus said, had used the special permit provision of the Convention as a “rubber stamp” to authorise continued commercial whaling.

Australia used some time on its last day referring to the evidence of Japan’s sole expert witness Professor Lars Walløe of University of Oslo in Norway. Prof Walløe’s expert evidence, Australia said, supported its case – not Japan’s.

Justin Gleeson, Australia’s Solicitor-General, said that Prof Walløe had acknowledged that there was a lack of scientific justification for the numbers and species of whales to be taken under Japan’s whaling program.

Mr Gleeson quoted Prof Walløe as saying in evidence “I did not like the proposals regarding Fin and Humpback whales” and “I don’t really know how they calculated sample sizes”.

Australia followed by arguing that Japan’s whaling program was unnecessary and indefensible, and that the Special Whaling Permit allowed “random hunting and gathering”.

Three species of whale are hunted under Japan’s whaling program: Humpback, Fin, and Minke whales. Australia said Japan had failed to establish why Humpback and endangered Fin whales needed to be killed, or justify why the number of Minke Whales killed had been doubled.

Japan currently permits 850 Minke Whales be killed each year. Australia quoted Prof Walløe again as saying that three or four hundred Minke Whales “was a large number”. […]

Professor Philippe Sands of University College London argued that Japan’s whaling program was not “a program for the purposes of scientific research”. He said that Japan’s arguments on this point amounted to: “What Japan says is science is science”.

He went on to counter Japan’s arguments that the scientific committee of the International Whaling Commission had endorsed Japan’s whaling program, saying that the evidence clearly demonstrates that the scientific committee has not supported it. […]

This is not the first time Japan has been in court over the exploitation of marine resources. Professor James Crawford of Cambridge University referred to an earlier international dispute about the fishing of Southern Bluefin Tuna.

In that case, Australia had not argued that Japan had been acting “in bad faith” but that it subsequently transpired that Japan had been “deliberately and substantially overfishing its quota of tuna”.

In arguing whether Japan’s whaling permits are issued in “good faith” or not, Prof Crawford said, “Japan does not own the whales” and those resources should not be allocated “to a State good at concealment”. [more]

Whaling in the Antarctic: New Zealand intervenes, Australia concludes



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