Japan’s Antarctic Whaling found to be in contravention of IWC and the moratorium

Japan has lost its case in the International Court of Justice in The Hague and told it is subject to the moratorium on whaling.

All at WDC warmly welcomes the decision of the International Court (ICJ) in its comprehensive judgment on Japan’s Antarctic Whaling. 

My first reaction is that this is an historic day in the protection of whales and may be the turning point in ending commercial whaling once and for all. It reflects years of work by WDC, other NGOs and conservation minded countries in making the argument that Japan's Article VIII whaling undermined the moratoria and the Southern Ocean Sanctuary. For too long Japan has unnecessarily killed, without sanction, thousands of whales.  The ICJ has found that Japan’s whaling is not only not justified, but that it has failed to consider if non-lethal means could have been used and so is illegal.

The Court has ruled that Japan’s whaling is not only unscientific according to the IWC rules, but is a contravention of the moratorium on commercial whaling which is massively significant.

But what does this mean for Japanese whaling now?

Japan has already said that it will accept the ruling, which is a welcome first step. But will this mean that Japan will simply increase its hunts in the North Pacific? 

I don't think so. Why? Well because if it was to do so, it could be taken back to the Court and it would suffer exactly the same criticism as it suffered for increasing its quota for JARPA II from JARPA I - it was not for science but for economics.

Japan argued that it needed to have the lethal takes to fund the research, but the research was found lacking.

What it may well mean is that its Pacific hunts are now totally uneconomic and whilst already subsidised, may be a reach too far for the already over-stretched Japanese treasury.

The Ashai Shimbun of 1st April 2014 quotes Masayuki Komatsu as saying,

‘the court decision is likely to have far-reaching implications, not just in the Antarctic.

“If Japan’s scientific whaling is taken to court based on the reasoning in the current case, the whale hunt in the northwest Pacific could also be ordered to halt,” he said.’

So unable to hunt in the Antarctic, stretched to finance the hunt in the Pacific, Japan may be faced with ending its high seas hunts once and for all.

What we may see is Japan returning to the IWC asking for coastal quotas, but these too have been rejected in the past on grounds of being commercial. Maybe, just maybe, Japan will step back, think on this ruling and look to whether whaling of any kind is actually worthwhile.

The IWC meeting in Slovenia this year is going to be interesting!

What does it mean for Norway and Iceland?

This is most probably the most interesting of questions today. Norway and Iceland have both sought to export their whale meat due to lack of sales at home.

Some might suggest that with Japan unable to flood its own market with Antarctic whale meat, there is a business opportunity for Icelandic and Norwegian whalers, and indeed Iceland has a suspected 2000 tonnes already underway down south.

But this whale meat is destined to join the nearly 5000 tonnes already in storage in Japan and Japan may now well want to refuse any competition for its own remaining whalers. With the US about to issue a statement on Icelandic whaling, the Scandinavian whalers may find that the international market is drying up faster than they can kill whales.

The Ruling of the Court

In a damning ruling the Court has found:

Japan’s whaling in Antarctica does not comply with the IWC’s definition of scientific permit whaling

“…that the special permits granted by Japan in connection with  JARPA II do not fall within the provisions of Article VIII, paragraph 1, of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling;”

That Japan is in contravention with the moratorium on commercial whaling 

“…that Japan, by granting special permits to kill, take and treat finhumpback and Antarctic minke whales in pursuance of JARPA II, has not acted in conformity  with its obligations under paragraph 10 (e) of the Schedule to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling;”

That Japan is in contravention with the moratorium on factory ship whaling

“…finds, by twelve votes to four, that Japan has not acted in conformity with its obligations underparagraph 10 (d) of the Schedule to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling in relation to the killing, taking and treating of fin whales in pursuance of JARPA II;”

That Japan is in contravention of the Southern Ocean Sanctuary

“… that Japan has not acted in conformity with its obligations under  paragraph 7 (b) of the Schedule to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling  in relation to the killing, taking and treating of fin whales in the “Southern Ocean Sanctuary” in  pursuance of JARPA II;”

The Court orders Japan to cease all Antarctic whaling and not to issue any more permits to whale in Antarctica

“… that Japan shall revoke any extant authorization, permit or licence granted in relation to JARPA II, and refrain from granting any further permits in  pursuance of that programme.”

Full statement from the Court



Lets hope this horrible cruel slaughter can/will be wiped out for all times.

Thank you for all your hard work and what you have done to protect these beautiful creatures from the cruelty of 'so called man-kind'! There is no doubt that the 'human being' is the most dangerous animal on the planet!!!

What great news! One day 'humans' will get their comuppance for all the cruelty they have bestowed on other animals sharing this planet.

I love how people can judge them for harvesting whales, but America eats chicken, and slaughters plenty of other animals to eat. Who cares

Well, thank goodness, it does seem people do care Bill. Caring means people are willing to take action to stand up for what they think is right. In this case, people who cared went to the highest court in the world, and the court agreed with them.

O MY GOD, this shows Japan that they could not keep getting away with it. Sea Shepherd has fought with them for so long. This is momentus news and will spur everyone one on to hit Iceland and Norway next. Lets go for it.

Some of the very best news I have heard for a long time. I hope that this can now be a turning point for other whaling countries to consider that our marine wildlife and our oceans should be protected, not hunted and destroyed.

Thank God and to everyone who fought so hard for this. The whaling has been one of the most revolting abuse of these amazing creatures. Would like to say however that hope these waters will be protected in case of any abuse that hopefully will not happen but cannot go on trust alone afraid.

Well they don't care who they hurt. Its about time. There research was with a harpoon so is Iceland and Norway. That is not how you research an animal like that you use a camera. These mammels need to be saved if we don't they will be extinct.

Please stop them all- and stop them from selling what is stock-piled-
stop the others- Norway, Iceland the Faroes and most of all
stop the slaughter of dolphins at the Cove
thank you so much
what great work

What a great day. The ball is now in Japan's court. I will be taking a day to reflect celebrate and then back on mission tomorrow. Thank you the good people of Australia and New Zealand for your hard work. Norway and iceland wake up your next.

Well done, all brave people at WDC.
Wonderful Court decision, changing our world for the better.

Such a Great Victory!

Amazing news!

Great news! sadly not the quite the end of it yet but here is hoping that the killing of these wonderful species is finished for good it can't come soon enough.

Really happy to hear this news! In a world where animals are being ripped from their homes and oceans, it's about time the Japanese changed their humanity, indeed the whole world. Animals are not ours to eat, wear, abuse or use in any way! That goes for all animals!

Great. Great news. Let's hope this terrible practise of killing our beautiful whales is stopped forever.

A great day for the whales! Horrendously 5,000 tonnes of whale meat are still in storage in Japan... Looking at that gory photo, it is still hard to stomach the death & waste of such a great one. To all the whales who died at the hands of Japan, you can now Rest In Peace. Thank you to the International Court for doing the right thing.

I have waited over 30 years for this to happen. Thank you good people of Australia and New Zealand as well as the wise judges sitting in The Hague. I sincerely hope the impetus to stop whaling, also other unnecessary dolphin and shark killings and general over-exploitation of the oceans is now on the agenda world wide.

OMG is this true? I'm shaking it's so amazing. What a wonderful day!

it was always shamefull but krill some of them feed off is now being wiped out and the fish that support these marine mammals is being wiped out inpart a huge success but whot about their future food

I am so overjoyed by this news that tears are coming to my eyes! Well done! Now let's keep the pressure on to remove any and all slaughter of beautiful cetacea and their oceanic cousins across the globe!

I have been following and/or participating in the anti-whaling campaign since 1971. This is a great step in the right direction, but there may still be more to do. Over the past 43 years there have been times when I have despaired of the Japanese and their 'scientific whaling' scams, at long last they have been shown up in front of an International court. Wonderful,hats off to Australia and New Zealand for pursuing them.


Fantastic news :) Thank you for your efforts and for sharing with us this happy news We were really in need of it :) Well done

Truly a great day; after SO long, the murder of our cetacean cousins is a giant leap closer to being banned worldwide. Time for a beach party!

Excellent news!!

great news, humans seem to have this notion that this planet and anythings that is on it is ours to with as we please, hopfully we see similar news with sharks soon! in fact anything that is slaughtered in mass to satisfy our gluttony

Please, this judgement has nothing to do with Sea Shepherd, although I'm sure they will try to take credit for it. This was a legal case brought in 2010 by Australia against Japan. Remember also that it is only a ban on the JARPA 11 programme, not scientific whaling itself. Japan could yet go away and return with a new programme. However this could be a way for Japan to cease what is a dying industry, subsidised by Japanese taxpayers without losing face to to environmental groups. Time will tell. As for Sea Shepherd, I think they will suffer here as well. Their support has been based purely on the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary issue, and without the TV shows the money will dry up. They will never go after Iceland and Norway as they did Japan, nor will they intervene in japan's North Pacific hunt.

I don't think that Sea Shepherd have said anything about their being responsible for this great news! We should all be happy about this. And by the way, when the Japanese whaling season was closed they headed straight to the Faroe Islands to try and stop their horrific, inhuman and cruel pilot whale hunts. I personally have nothing but admiration for Sea Shepherd and any other organisation that actually TAKE ACTION to try to stop what they know is wrong.