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Whaling in the Antarctic: New Zealand intervenes, Australia concludes

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…

Australia brings its last case against the Japanese whaling program. AAP Image

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.

New Zealand intervenes

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.

But New Zealand countered Japan’s case, saying that the provision of special permits was “not an exemption” from the rest of the convention, or from the collective decision-making of the International Whaling Commission.

New Zealand also provided an history of the genesis of the 1946 Whaling Convention, which it said was rooted in the “rampant over-exploitation” of whales prior to the Second World War.

New Zealand argued the negotiation of the convention was a “common endeavour”, but initial actions taken under it were “too little, too late”. The object and purpose of the convention established “a system of collective regulation for the conservation and management of whales”.

Further, they said that the “common purpose” of the parties to the whaling convention had been overshadowed by controversy over Japan’s current whaling program.

Cultural imperialism

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.

The use of the expert witness

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”.

Random hunting and gathering

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”.

The inter-species competition model put forward by Japan to justify its program “remained illusory”, Australia said. Lethal whaling was not required to improve the management model developed by the Whaling Commission to conserve whales.

Is killing whales necessary?

In response to a question put to Australia by a member of the ICJ on whether Australia “categorically opposed” lethal whaling, Australia said that it supported legitimate Aboriginal subsistence whaling, and that Australia would not oppose lethal whaling for scientific purposes “if it were absolutely needed”.

What is science – a heap of body parts?

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.

Australia said that Japan had “closed its mind to non-lethal alternatives to killing whales”. Australia argued that the data obtained from the Japanese whaling program was not, in any event, useful to, or required by the Whaling Commission.

What do tuna and whales have in common?

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”.

Australia concludes

In summing up Australia’s case, Mark Dreyfus emphasised the fact that Australia and Japan “were friends” and that the Court had an important role as the final arbiter of disputes. He said the case was about the environment, endangered species and science and “Australia respectfully requests the Court to bring Japan’s whaling program to an end.”

Join the conversation

13 Comments sorted by

  1. Arlene Adams

    logged in via Facebook

    YOU TELL ME WHAT KIND OF :RESEARCH" JAPAN IS CONDUCTING ON 900 WHALES A SEASON WHEN THEY USE MEAT PACKAGING AND PROCESSING SHIPS TO COLLECT THE :RESEARCHED" WHALES ? THAT IS HARDLY A "RESEARCH" SHIP!
    WHAT SCIENTIFIC DATA ARE THEY CONDUCTING WHEN THEY PROCESS AND FREEZE THE MEAT FOR IMMEDIATE SALES TO THE COMMON MARKETPLACE! ARE THEY "SURVEYING" HOW MUCH MONEY THEY CAN MAKE PER POUND FOR EACH WHALE THEY SELL? COME ON PEOPLE, WAKE UP! THEY ARE FISHING THOSE MOST BEAUTIFUL MAMMELS INTO DISTINCTION! IT'S TOO LATE TO STOP THE KILLING ONCE THEY ARE WIPED OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH! PLEASE GIVE YOUR SUPPORT TO STOP THE KILLING.

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    1. Steve Phillips

      Nurse Practitioner

      In reply to Arlene Adams

      I dont know if you realise it but you are shouting at us.
      It's considered rude even on the net.
      Nothing personal.

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  2. Jay HR

    Student

    Thanks for the update Tony. Mark Dreyfus's friendship comment seems particularly relevant amid the toing and frowing of emotionally charged rhetoric outside of the court.

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  3. Terry Reynolds

    Financial and political strategist

    Like PM Gillard establishing a Royal Commission into the criminal and deceitful behaviour of the widespread paedophilia in the Catholic Church that was kept from the public for decades if not centuries, it took another Labor PM, in Kevin Rudd three years ago to take on Japan on its deceitful and criminal behaviour in breaching the rules and commercial whaling.

    We done on both counts!

    All the while the Coalition sits in the spectator stands, hissing and booing a very productive Government for the past six years! When the Coalition had eleven years, they did little on anything.

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    1. Jay HR

      Student

      In reply to Terry Reynolds

      Terry,

      How do broad sweeping generalisations to describe a whole country or a society help the conversation? Would you call Afghans terrorists? Would you call white Americans racist? I hope you don't see Japanese people as criminals because of your perspective on whaling.

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    2. Terry Reynolds

      Financial and political strategist

      In reply to Jay HR

      Jay, when the Catholic Church faces the problem of widespread paedophilia by its employees preying on the children of its congregation and does nothing, whereas protestant churches saw their miscreants imprisoned for long terms and when it is the official policy of democratically elected Government of Japan to undertake grand scale commercial whaling and seeking to deceive the world that it is in the interest of scientific research you call it as it is.

      No one is saying all of the 127 million Japanese man boats and go whaling in the Southern Ocean each souther summer, nor that all Roman Catholic priests are satisfied their sexual urges as paedophiles. We are talking about the official behaviour of the Catholic Church and the Government of Japan that is being criticised. Both stand to be roundly condemned!

      I don't call everyone who disagrees with me gullible or simpletons, but some are. Other readers will discern who they are or if it is me.

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    3. Jay HR

      Student

      In reply to Terry Reynolds

      I agree, the democratically elected Japanese government have made decisions you don't agree with.

      What positive input you do have to progress the situation?

      It is your right to hold any views you wish and express them as you like. Although, finger pointing and foot stamping is unlikely to win you friends, especially when you could be connecting with people who don't have your point of view; people who can simply turn their back when you speak.

      I'll leave the gullible/simpleton remark; I don't think that does you any justice with the point you are trying to make.

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  4. Edwina Laginestra
    Edwina Laginestra is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Jack of all trades

    I appreciate all of your postings - succinct and informative, thank you Tony. Does Japan get to present again and is there a timeframe for deliberation?

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    1. Tony Press

      CEO, Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems CRC at University of Tasmania

      In reply to Edwina Laginestra

      Japan has today (Monday 15th July) and tomorrow to present its final argument. The Court will then take some time to consider the case. A ruling is not expected for a few months, although the Australian Attorney-General, Mark Dreyfus, said on Friday last that he hoped it would be before the next whaling season.

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  5. Peter Bosland

    IT PM

    In an age where it's easy to feel you're too insignificant to have any influence on such divisive practices as 'Research' Whaling, We can highly recommend the approach that our family has taken - as follows:

    We have many friends in Japan but some 5 years ago, we made a conscious decision to stop purchasing Japanese products.
    Our Japanese cars have been replaced by European cars, our Japanese electronic goods have been replaced by Korean electronic goods... the Walkmans have been replaced by Ipods…

    Read more