Court Slams Japan’s Scientific Whaling – Science
A 31 March ruling from the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the Netherlands, found that Japan’s justification for killing thousands of minke whales in the Southern Ocean since the mid-1990s didn’t pass scientific muster. Japan, which signed a 1982 ban on commercial whaling, said it had a right to conduct the kills under the research provisions of a 1946 whaling agreement, and argued the lethal studies were needed to understand whale populations and marine ecosystems. But the government of Australia challenged that view in a 2010 lawsuit, arguing that the research was a cover for continued commercial whaling. By a 12 to four vote, the court agreed, finding that Japan had used flawed and nonscientific methods to justify the cull, and had produced little scientific knowledge. It isn’t clear, however, whether the ruling will deter Japan from whaling; it applies only to the Antarctic hunt, and not to future hunts or to a similar Japanese program in the North Pacific.