In an attempt to protect whales in the Southern Ocean, Australia asked that the International Court of Justice forbid Japan from continuing to hunt them.
Japanese whalers maintain that they are only hunting whales for research purposes. Much like the Sea Shepherd organization, Australia refuses to believe that the slaughtering of these marine mammals has nothing to do with commercial activities.
Ecorazzi explains that, back in 1986, the International Whaling Commission issued a ban saying that whales could no longer be hunted for commercial purposes.
Japan managed to get around this ban by saying that its interest in killing these marine mammals was purely scientific.
“We have a scientific research program in accordance with the convention on whaling and we are strictly abiding by the treaty obligations,” Japan’s spokesman Noriyuki Shikata states.
“Japan is conducting both non-lethal and lethal research program. Some of the data cannot be obtained by non-lethal means,” he goes on on to say.
Australia and conservationists argue that Japan kills way too many whales for them to be able to say that they only care about research.
What's more, it often happens that the meat taken from marine mammals slaughtered by Japanese whalers is sold in stores and markets across the country.
This also proves that Japan is not being truthful about its reasons for hunting whales.
“Australia’s views on whaling are well established. We strongly oppose all commercial whaling, including so-called ‘scientific’ whale hunting by Japan. We want to see the practice halted once and for all,” Australian attorney-general Mark Dreyfus says in a statement.
This coming December, Japanese whalers are to head towards the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
Conservationists hope that the International Court of Justice will rule in favor of Australia and that Japan will not be allowed to carry on with its Antarctic hunt as planned.
Hearings will continue until mid-July.