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June 2, 2010

Australia Takes the Lead on Protecting Whales

Japan to appear at the International Court of Justice

Humane Society International

  • A mother and calf minke whale. Adrian Baddeley/iStockphoto

by Marcie Berry

Since 1987 Japan has defied the moratorium on commercial whaling, hunting whales in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary and Australian waters. Ten years ago, lawyers with Humane Society International put forward the idea that Australia should challenge Japan's whaling activities in the International Court of Justice. No one has dared to take legal action against Japan however, until now.

Perhaps it was the lack of commitment to conservation in the current IWC "compromise" proposal that finally pushed them over the edge, but the Australian government has announced that it will move forward with an international court case against Japan in the hopes of seeking justice for whales. The case will be brought to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Australia's leaders should be applauded for their actions. At a time when whales need more protection than ever before, they have stepped up to the plate, showing the world that they will not give in to pressure from whaling nations. Australia's bottom line is an end to whaling in the Southern Ocean. Advancing this case is step one towards achieving that goal.