Australia and Japan will debate the right to hunt whales for scientific research in the Southern ocean in the International Court of Justice during the coming weeks. The first round got underway on Wednesday.
Australia accuses Japan of breaking an international moratorium on commercial whaling agreed in 1986, but which permits killing for scientific research. It is hiding behind, “the lab coat of science,” the Australian government lawyer told the court. Supporters want an emphatic judgement.“We hope, of course, that this is the highest juridical level, that the judges will decide in favour of exiting laws and treaties, meaning that it is not allowed to whale within the boundaries of the Antarctic whale sanctuary, that it is not allowed to whale inside the Australian economic exclusion zone, that it is not allowed to kill whales that are on the list of the endangered species,” said Geert Vons, director of Sea Shepherd Netherland’s, a conservation group which monitors whaling.
Under the current agreement Japanese whalers hunt an annual quota of around 850 minke whales. The meat can be sold for consumption which critics argue is keeping the country’s dwindling industry alive.
Japan will make its presentations to the international court next week. A judgement is not expected for many months.