Sea Shepherd achieved a great victory yesterday when the court in The Hague prohibited whaling in Japan. The International Court of Justice ruled that Japan must stop whaling in the Antarctic. With that, whaling in Japan is now officially prohibited. The Court is of the opinion that whaling is a commercial and not a scientific activity, as claimed by Japan. The process against Japan was launched in 2010 by Australia, which aims to end commercial whaling in the Southern Ocean. According to the calculations, since 1988, Japan killed more than 10,000 whales. Activists hope that this is a new step towards a total ban on whaling around the world.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is the most known environmental group in the fight against whaling. They have been battling for eight long years but their industrious efforts paid off. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society USA and Sea Shepherd Australia both applauded and celebrated the great victory when the news that whaling in Japan is prohibited arrived. The Sea Shepherd was the only organization that directly intervened against the Japan’s illegal commercial whaling, which they conducted under the pretext of research. While those internationally protected species migrated through Antarctic, Sea Shepherd was the only thing that was indeed standing between the majestic whales and the harpoons.
Captain Paul Watson, the Sea Shepherd Founder, said that despite the moratorium on the commercial whaling, Japan did not stop killing the gentle giants of the sea. The sea is their home and was supposed to be their safe haven. He also added that the Sea Shepherd and he, along with millions of concerned people around the world, certainly hope that Japan will honor this ruling by the international court and leave the whales in peace. “With today’s ruling, the International Court of Justice took a just stance on the right side of history,” said Captain Alex Cornelissen of Sea Shepherd Global.
Before the yesterday’s verdict, there were some speculations that the International Court of Justice will not allow the hunting of endangered fin and humpback whales, but it will compromise and allow the hunting of minke whales. However, it has been Sea Shepherd’s argument all along that no matter the species, no whales should be killed. Especially in a sanctuary, which is “a place of refuge or safety; a nature reserve” where animals are protected. To allow killing in an internationally designated sanctuary is to make a mockery of international agreements made by those countries who established the sanctuary in 1994. At that time, 23 countries supported the agreement and Japan was the only International Whaling Commission member to oppose it.
Japan’s whale hunting has been brought to light by the show Whale Wars, which details the trials of the Sea Shepherd organization and their fight against Japanese whalers. If Japan chooses to ignore the prohibition, Sea Shepherd Global will have their ships prepared to return to the Southern Ocean in December 2014. Their crew will be there to uphold this ruling against the pirate whalers of Japan, if their whaling fleet returns. Given the fact that whaling in Japan is now finally prohibited, the Sea Shepherd can celebrate a great victory.
By: Janette Verdnik