Image Source: Flickr.

As the IWC meeting in Morocco approaches and an anti-whaling activist faces trial in Japan, the Australian government made a bold move yesterday by announcing plans to take legal action against Japanese whaling—starting next week.

It has long been known that Australia does not support whaling, especially when it happens in the nearby Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Their New Zealand neighbors are also against these violent activities and are also considering opening a case against Japan, as well.

The Japanese conduct “lethal research” through a loophole in a 1986 moratorium. However, they do not hide the fact that most of the meat from their whale hunts ends up in stores and restaurants. Other investigations have linked the selling of whale meat—particularly meat from endangered species—to the Japanese whalers, as well. Yet, the IWC’s latest decision is to allow them, Iceland, and Norway continue their hunts under stricter guidelines—if those nations agree to “significantly reduce” their catch quotas over the next decade.

Needless to say, Australia, New Zealand, and a number of other nations (including parts of Latin America) find this proposal absolutely unacceptable. So, Australian officials made it known that they plan to give documents to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague “early next week”. Environment Protection Minister, Peter Garrett, commented:

“We want to see an end to whales being killed in the name of science in the Southern Ocean. [The] announcement of legal action shows the government is taking steps to bring a permanent end to whaling in the Southern Ocean.”

Japanese Fisheries Minister, Hirotaka Akamatsu, responded by saying the announcement was “very disappointing”. However, according to Australian Foreign Minister, Stephen Smith, they were unable to find a diplomatic solution to the problem, despite all the talks within the IWC; thus, they must move on to the next option.

More information on the whaling issue will be posted as it happens.

By Heidi Marshall