Australia is threatening possible legal action over Japan’s decision to continue whaling in the waters off Antarctica.
"The Australian government does not support what is a deeply disappointing decision by Japan, and we will continue to raise our concerns at the highest level of the Japanese government," the Australian minister for foreign affairs, Julie Bishop, said in a statement published online Monday. "We are working with other like-minded nations to build international consensus against Japanese whaling. We are also exploring options for further legal action."
Japan decided in November to resume whaling in the Antarctic after taking a one-year hiatus.
The International Court of Justice said last year that Japan's whaling in the Southern Ocean should stop, and an International Whaling Committee panel said in April of this year that Tokyo had yet to demonstrate a need for killing whales.
Joji Morishita, Japan's representative on the committee, said his country has made every effort to meet the objections of both the panel and the court.
Japan's whaling plan for 2015–16 has cut the number of minke whales it will take by two-thirds, to 333.
An international whaling moratorium went into effect in 1986. One year later, Japan began what it calls scientific whaling. Iceland and Norway continue to practice commercial whaling, though they don’t hunt in Antarctica.
Patrick Ramage, the whale program director at International Fund for Animal Welfare in Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts, says what Japan does "is not science."
He said the whales are caught, hung upside down by the side of the boat to suffocate, and then measured and cut up by the whalers. "It’s 101 things to do to a dead whale," he said.
Similarly, the International Court of Justice's decision last year said that Japan’s killing of minke whales since 2005 has produced scientific output that "appears limited."
An unpublished 2007 paper presented by Japan to the court said that "whale research is costly, and therefore lethal methods which could recover the cost for research [are] more desirable," suggesting that after study, Japan sells parts of the whale for profit.
It is widely reported that whale meat is sold in Japanese grocery stores and restaurants, although many reports have noted the falling demand for whale meat by Japanese consumers.
Australia said in its statement Monday that whaling is unnecessary for the scientific study of the mammals. "The science is clear," it said. "All information necessary for management and conservation of whales can be obtained through nonlethal methods."
Al Jazeera with Reuters