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Japanese whaling harpooned by U.N. Court

Court rules against Japanese whale hunt
Court rules against Japanese whale hunt
Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images

Monday, the International Court of Justice ruled against Japan’s annual whale hunt.

The ruling came four years after Australia filed a lawsuit against Japan demanding the end of their annual whale hunt in the southern ocean. Despite the 1986 International Whaling Commission (IWC) moratorium, the Japanese have been able to continue their annual whale hunt under the guise of the scientific JARPA II research program. Australia claimed that since 1988, Japan had slaughtered over 10,000 whales and that the purposes were commercial, not scientific.

Today, the International Court of Justice, the judicial branch of the United Nations, ruled that the JARPA II program was not for scientific research and all permits were to be revoked and no future ones to be granted. Presiding judge Peter Tomka said of the decision,

"The court concludes that the special permits granted by Japan for the killing, taking, and treating of whales ... are not 'for purposes of scientific research'”.

The conservation group, Sea Shepherd, announced the victory on their website shortly after the ruling stating “The Whales have won!” The Sea Shepherd also announced their plans to uphold the ruling, “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 Sea Shepherd crew have worked tirelessly for years to disrupt the annual Japanese whale hunt. Their efforts are featured on the Animal Planet’s Whale Wars TV series.