By: Stephen Messenger
Less than two weeks after the United Nation’s International Court of Justice ordered that Japan halt its annual whale hunt in the Southern Ocean, new court filings show that the whalers intend to continue hunting them regardless.
Despite a decades-old international moratorium on whaling, Japan had continued to kill hundreds of whales each year under the guise of a ‘scientific program’ operated by the state-sponsored Institute of Cetacean Research. In the landmark case, international judges in the Hague ruled that program, called JARPA II, was no longer going to be allowed to operate.
“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,” said presiding judge Peter Tomka.
Following the decision by the ICJ, officials in Tokyo were said to be “deeply disappointed,” indicating that the Institute’s JARPA II Antarctic hunt planned for late 2014 would be canceled in compliance with the ruling.
A document filed by the Institute in a Seattle on Friday in an ongoing case against anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd, however, indicates that the Institute plans to resume the Antarctic hunt in 2015 in a redressed ‘scientific research’ program.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the filing states that new program will be different enough to skirt the recent ICJ ruling.
“The Government of Japan recently announced the JARPA II special permits would not be issued for Plaintiffs to conduct research in the Southern Ocean during the 2014-15 season,” read the filing by the Institute’s legal counsel John Neupert.
“For the information of the Court and parties, Plaintiffs expect that they will be conducting a Southern Ocean research program for subsequent seasons that would be in accord with the ICJ decision.”
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Founder Paul Watson says that this new revelation that Japanese Institute intends to resume their program is a show of defiance to the spirit of the ICJ ruling, but that it isn’t entirely surprising.
“When the ICJ verdict was issued, I knew that although it was a great victory that vindicated our opposition to illegal whaling in the Southern Ocean, I could see the potential for the ICR to re-write their program and to return. My prediction was they would return for the 2015-2016 season. It seems that this is exactly what they intend to do,” says Watson.
“The statement that Japan issued that they would comply with the ICJ ruling was I believe insincere.”
While the details are unclear how the new program might differ from the previous hunts in the Southern Ocean, Watson believes it won’t be a hands-off research approach.
“They’re going to do lethal whaling. They need the meat to send back to pay for it.”
In previous years, Japanese whalers averaged killing some 850 minke whales and up to 50 endangered fin whales every year.