Despite four years of fierce opposition by Japanese authorities, the International Court of Justice announced Monday last week that Japans’ whaling program could not be for ‘scientific purposes’, a loophole that was used by Japan to legitimise its continued whaling in the Southern Ocean.
In a case that was initiated by the Australian government and backed by New Zealand in 2010, the court ruling meant that Japan would have to cease its annual whaling hunts in the waters off Antarctica.
Calling the outcome “a whale of a win!” Sea Shepherd Australia chairman and former Greens leader Bob Brown congratulated the efforts of their team in the win.
Sea Shepherds Captain Adam Meyerson believes Sea Shepherds efforts to keep the issue in the media spotlight drew international support for the case against Japan, thanks partly to the popular Animal Planet documentary series, Whale Wars.
“I think with Whale Wars, the power of the media was huge. People were just drawn to the fact that this was happening down there. So Australia had to react to that, having created this whale sanctuary. And they had pressure from what we were doing down there, to enforce it.”
Sea Shepherds recent mission ‘Operation Relentless’ is credited for having preventing the deaths of around 700 Whales this year, thanks to their pursuit of Japanese Whaling fleets.
Japan’s Fisheries agency official Koichi Mizutani attributed their low catch of 251 whales, around a quarter of their target, to harassment from the Sea Shepherd crew. He pointed out that they “often had to run away from the group and they could not engage in their research (whaling).”
Although there were less physical run in’s with the whales this year, Meyerson believes that they did a good job of keeping them on their toes.
“It’s just preventing them from getting set in there and doing damage, which is a great thing. That’s what we wanted to do… We prevented them from killing hundreds of whales, so I think in the end it was a really good mission.”
– Kylie Purcell, Correspondent (Antarctica)
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