Whales win: UN Court orders Japan to halt whaling off Antarctica

In a victory for whales, the United Nation’s highest court has ordered Japan to halt whaling in the Antarctic. The court ruled the hunt can not be justified for scientific research purposes, despite Japan’s arguments to the contrary.

Critics have insisted all along that the whale hunts were never scientific, and that claiming the whaling was justified for scientific research purposes was only a “ruse” to skirt the prohibition against commercial whaling.

The International Court of Justice ruled Monday that Japan hasn’t generated enough scientific research to justify killing hundreds of whales, and ordered Japan to revoke all whaling permits in the Antarctic and stop granting new ones.

The ruling by the court halts a Japanese program that has captured more than 10,000 minke and other whales in the Southern Ocean each year since 1988 in the name of biological research.

A Japanese foreign ministry spokesman, Noriyuki Shikata, was quoted in news reports as telling reporters in The Hague that the country “regrets and is deeply disappointed” by the decision.

But he also was quoted as saying that Japan respected the rule of law and would abide by the decision.

However, observers worry Japan could also simply end its participation in agreements that curb whale hunting. And, as The New York Times  notes, “The court left open the possibility for future whale hunting if Japan redesigned its program.”

Whales Win

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