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November 17, 2015

Humane Society International Challenges Japanese Whaling Company in Court Case

Japan poised to start new whale killing programme in Southern Ocean next month

Humane Society International/UK

  • GYI NSEA/istock

Legal proceedings against Japanese whaling company Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha (Kyodo) for breaching an Australian order to stop killing whales in the Australian Whale Sanctuary in the Southern Ocean, will begin on Wednesday 18 November in the Federal Court in Sydney.  Humane Society International/Australia is bringing the case after being successfully granted an injunction by the Federal Court on appeal in 2008. The Federal Court found that Kyodo had killed whales in the Australian Whale Sanctuary and that these activities were in breach of Australia’s chief environmental protection legislation, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

On evidence that will be presented at court, HSI/Australia will argue that Kyodo disregarded this injunction and continued to kill minke whales in the Australian Whale Sanctuary. The evidence that will be presented supports HSI’s claim that the number of whales taken by Kyodo since the injunction is at least in the tens, if not the hundreds, over four separate annual whaling campaigns.

HSI/Australia Director Michael Kennedy said, “Under Australian law, whales in the Australian Whale Sanctuary in Australian Antarctic waters, are fully protected. By killing whales in the Sanctuary, Kyodo has continued to breach the terms of the 2008 injunction. If whaling in Antarctic waters does resume this year, as we fear it will, and Kyodo continues to ignore the injunction, we ask that the Australian Government raises this with the Japanese Government to ensure that Australian laws for the protection of whales are observed.”

Since the global moratorium on commercial whaling was introduced in 1986, Japan has defied the ban and killed more than 15,000 whales in the name of scientific research. Japan is now preparing to launch a revised whaling 'research' programme next month to kill 4,000 minke whales in the Southern Ocean (333 whales every year between 2015 and 2027) in defiance of a ruling last year by the International Court of Justice that Japan’s previous Southern Ocean research whaling was illegal and must stop.

In the UK, twelve animal protection groups including Humane Society International, Whale and Dolphin Conservation and Greenpeace launched a petition to urge the government to keep its pre-election manifesto pledge to act on whaling as a world leader in conservation. The groups are calling for meaningful diplomatic action at precisely the time Japan is seeking to secure an EU/Japan trade deal and a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International/UK said: “Japan already kills whales in defiance of the global moratorium, and is now drawing up a death warrant for thousands more whales in defiance of the highest court in the world. The British Government committed itself to opposing commercial whaling and now, as we enter high-level negotiations over trade deals and the UN, is the chance to prove it. Blatant defiance of international sanctions against whaling must be a political deal-breaker.” 

Take Action to Save Whales.

Humane Society International has called on governments worldwide to take high diplomatic actions against the powerful ongoing campaigns of the whaling nations and at this time, in particular, the preparations made by Japan to return to whaling killing in the waters around Antarctica this December. 

Mark Simmonds, senior marine scientist of Humane Society International, said: “Japan's whaling meets no pressing human need and fulfils no key scientific objectives for whale conservation. It should be consigned to history and modern benign methods used to investigate these amazing animals. Let us move on from the bad old whaling days."

Kyodo has not lodged any counter case and will not be appearing at Court. The case will be heard ex parte without the other party. 

Media contact: Wendy Higgins, whiggins@hsi.org, +44(0)7989 972 423

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