Sea Shepherd Applauds the World Court for Protecting the Whales of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary
In a stunning victory for the whales, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague announced their binding decision today in the landmark case of Australia v. Japan, ruling that Japan’s JARPA II whaling program in the Antarctic is not for scientific purposes and ordering that all permits given under JARPA II be revoked. The news was applauded and celebrated by Sea Shepherd Conservation Society USA and Sea Shepherd Australia, both of which have directly intervened against Japanese whalers in the Southern Ocean.
Representing Sea Shepherd in the courtroom to hear the historic verdict were Captain Alex Cornelissen, Executive Director of Sea Shepherd Global and Geert Vons, Director of Sea Shepherd Netherlands. They were accompanied by Sea Shepherd Global’s Dutch legal counsel.
The case against Japan was heard by the ICJ in July of last year to decide whether Japan is in breach of its international obligations in implementing the JARPA II “research” program in the Southern Ocean, and to demand that Japan cease implementation of JARPA II and revoke any related permits until Japan can make assurances that their operations conform with international law.
In a vote of 12 to 4, the ICJ ruled that the scientific permits granted by Japan for its whaling program were not scientific research as defined under International Whaling Commission regulations. It ordered that Japan revoke the scientific permits given under JARPA II and refrain from granting any further permits under that program.
Prior to the verdict, there had been some speculation that the ICJ would not permit the hunting of endangered fin and humpback whales, but it would compromise and allow the hunting of minke whales. However, it has been Sea Shepherd’s contention all along that — no matter the species — no whales should be killed, especially in a sanctuary. Sanctuary means “a place of refuge or safety; a nature reserve” where animals are protected. To allow killing in an internationally designated sanctuary is to make a mockery of international agreements made by those countries who established the sanctuary in 1994. At that time, 23 countries supported the agreement and Japan was the only IWC member to oppose it.
Even the Ambassador from Japan to the U.S., Kenichiro Sasae, during a public meeting in Los Angeles in December 2013 attended by representatives of Sea Shepherd USA, had this to say about whales and whaling: ”As an individual, I like whales and if you go out and see the whales, there is no reason for us to kill this lovely animal. But it’s history and it’s politics, I would say. There are a small number of Japanese people still trying to get this won. But mainstream Japanese are not eating whale anymore.” At the same meeting,Ambassador Sasae stated that Japan will abide by the ICJ ruling.
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s international volunteer crew stood on the frontlines in the hostile and remote waters of Antarctica for eight years and then Sea Shepherd Australia took up that gauntlet for the last two years and will keep confronting Japanese whalers in Antarctica until we can once and for all bring an end to the killing in this internationally designated “safety zone” for whales. Over the years, Sea Shepherd has been the only organization to directly intervene against Japan’s illegal commercial whaling conducted under the guise of research, with their claims of research globally questioned. Indeed, Sea Shepherd has been the only thing standing between majestic whales and the whalers’ harpoons, as these internationally protected species — many of them pregnant — migrate through Antarctic waters each year.
“With today’s ruling, the ICJ has taken a fair and just stance on the right side of history by protecting the whales of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary and the vital marine ecosystem of Antarctica, a decision that impacts the international community and future generations,” said Captain Alex Cornelissen of Sea Shepherd Global.
“Though Japan’s unrelenting harpoons have continued to drive many species of whales toward extinction, Sea Shepherd is hopeful that in the wake of the ICJ’s ruling, it is whaling that will be driven into the pages of the history books,” he said.
“Despite the moratorium on commercial whaling, Japan has continued to claim the lives of thousands of the gentle giants of the sea in a place that should be their safe haven,” said Sea Shepherd Founder, Captain Paul Watson. “Sea Shepherd and I, along with millions of concerned people around the world, certainly hope that Japan will honor this ruling by the international court and leave the whales in peace.”
Sea Shepherd Global will have the ships prepared to return to the Southern Ocean in December 2014 should Japan choose to ignore this ruling. If the Japanese whaling fleet returns, Sea Shepherd crew will be there to uphold this ruling against the pirate whalers of Japan.
The formal legal remedies sought by Australia were:
“40. For these reasons, and reserving the right to supplement, amplify or amend
the present Application, Australia requests the Court to adjudge and declare that
Japan is in breach of its international obligations in implementing the JARPA II
program in the Southern Ocean.
41. In addition, Australia requests the Court to order that Japan :
(a) cease implementation of JARPA II ;
(b) revoke any authorizations, permits or licences (sic) allowing the activities which are
the subject of this application to be undertaken ; and
(c) provide assurances and guarantees that it will not take any further action under
the JARPA II or any similar program until such program has been brought into
conformity with its obligations under international law ¨.
You can find the full text of Australia's application here:
About Sea Shepherd Conservation Society USA
Founded by Captain Paul Watson, a world renowned, respected leader in environmental issues and co-founder of Greenpeace, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) USA is a non-profit conservation organization whose mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species. Established in 1977, Sea Shepherd uses innovative direct-action tactics to investigate, document, and take action when necessary to expose and confront illegal activities on the high seas. By safeguarding the biodiversity of our delicately balanced oceanic ecosystems, Sea Shepherd works to ensure their survival for future generations. Visit www.seashepherd.org for more information.