AWI Statement in Response to Ruling by International Court of Justice in Australia V. Japan

Washington, DC–The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) commends the decision made by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in Australia’s challenge to Japan’s scientific whaling program conducted in the Antarctic (known as JARPA II). In its ruling, issued this morning in The Hague, the ICJ, by a vote of 12–4, concluded that JARPA II does not comply with Article VIII of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (the Article that authorizes whaling for the purposes of scientific research).

In reaching this conclusion, the ICJ was critical of JARPA II for its open-ended time frame; limited scientific output; and failure to consider non-lethal methods, justify the large sample sizes, or coordinate with other national and international research programs.

“For decades AWI has condemned Japan’s so-called scientific whaling as being commercial whaling disguised as science,” states Susan Millward, AWI’s executive director. “This decision vindicates AWI and all the other organizations and scientists who saw through Japan’s shallow arguments about science and steadfastly maintained that Japan’s whaling was done for commercial purposes.”

The ICJ decided that Japan “shall revoke any extant authorization, permit or license granted in relation to JARPA II, and refrain from granting any further permits in pursuance of that program.”

“AWI trusts that Japan, as one of the world’s most influential and powerful countries, will respect the court’s ruling and end a whaling program that has no scientific merit and has resulted in the slaughter of thousands of whales for commercial sale, despite a declining demand for such products in Japan,” adds Millward.

The moratorium on commercial whaling, implemented in 1986, has saved hundreds of thousands of whales from slaughter and likely prevented the extinction of some stocks. Unfortunately, Japan, Norway, and Iceland have elected to ignore the moratorium. While the ICJ decision, if honored by Japan, will end commercial whaling in the Antarctic, Japan continues to kill whales—including endangered Bryde’s and sei whales—in the North Pacific, while Iceland and Norway slaughter whales for commercial purposes in the North Atlantic.

“AWI encourages Japan to apply the ICJ decision to its North Pacific whaling program (JARPN), as it is based on the same weak scientific foundation as JARPA,” states D.J. Schubert, wildlife biologist at AWI. “It’s time for Japan to forego whaling and join the majority of the world’s nations in striving to protect and restore the world’s great whales.”

The Obama administration has an opportunity to enhance this historic week for whales by invoking targeted trade sanctions against Icelandic companies directly or indirectly engaged in whaling in response to the Department of Interior’s recent certification of Iceland for undermining the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES). The White House response to the certification is due April 1.

AWI congratulates the governments of Australia and New Zealand (which supported the Australian case), as well as their international team of lawyers and scientists who helped secure this significant and historic decision by the ICJ.

Susan Millward (202) 337-2332
D.J. Schubert (609) 601-2875

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