Eight years ago, proceedings were instituted at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague, where Australia accused Japan of pursuing a large scale Antarctic whaling program.
Four years later, the ICJ ruled that Japan must immediately stop its whaling program. The World Court found the loophole in the 1946 International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling that permits lethal scientific research did not apply to Japan.
Nori Shikata, a spokesperson for the government of Japan, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that, “Japan will abide by the judgment of the court that places a great importance on legal order and the rule of law.”
Eighteen months later, the Federal Australian Court found the Japanese government-owned whaling company guilty of “willful contempt” of court for breaching a 2010 order to stop massacring whales. Japan was fined $250,000 for each of the four years they illegally whaled.
The whalers did not appear in court for sentencing. To date, Japan refuses to pay its $1 million punishment.
Despite the World and Australian Court rulings, Japan re-commenced whaling inside the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary during December 2016, with military satellites and naval support. Clearly, Japan does not adhere to legal order, nor the rule of law.
Japan has mercilessly declared war in the Southern Ocean against the second smallest of the baleen piked whales (minkes).
So far, they have annihilated 666 of Nature’s finest works of art. Japan intends on slaying another 3,333 minkes. Why?
Are Japanese citizens starving? No. Quite the contrary, there is no demand for whale meat. So the Japanese government grinds up exquisite mammals into dog food and forces the remaining meat into the national school lunch program.
Whales are masterpieces. They are inspiring my colleagues to save lives. For instance, deep-diving whales like sperms and Cuvier’s beaked whales hold the key to saving physical trauma patients. A special oxygen-binding, ultra-stable protein found in the muscles of deep-diving whales, are helping doctors develop synthetic blood used for emergency transfusions.
Humans have destroyed nearly 3 million whales in the 20th century. In the 21st century, 308,000 cetaceans (whales, dolphins, porpoises) are suffocated each year from 640,000 metric tons of fishery nets, haphazardly discarded annually. Instead of protecting the whales, we are knowingly accelerating their extermination.
Fisheries are emptying the sea of everything large – from leatherback turtles, bluefin tunas, and blue whales, to great white sharks. Since the dawning of reproductive evolution 1.1 billion years ago, there has never been an event of this magnitude, the hideous Sixth Mass Extinction.
Whales are invaluable alive, serving as farmer’s of the sea. Their flocculent fecal plumes are rich in iron and nitrogen. It regrows phytoplankton, the basis of the entire marine ecosystem.
300 zettajoules of heat from burning climate-destroying fossil fuels has wiped away 40% of the oceans phytoplankton. It has denied cold currents from rising. That heat has also precluded essential phytoplankton fertilizers, iron and nitrogen from reaching the surface. Phytoplankton and blue green bacteria, prochlorococcus, afford us almost two out of every three breaths of oxygen.
Fossil fuels have robbed us of our atmospheric oxygen, which is trending frighteningly downward. The whales are helping us breathe!
In its latest planet-killing assault, Japan gleefully boasted of assassinating 122 pregnant minkes, 114 babies along with 97 adult males and females.
Killing whales is insane. It’s also unacceptable to slaughter the sea with impunity.
Eminent conservationist Dr Bob Brown succinctly summed up Japan’s egregious looting of the whales:
“Australia’s Coalition and Labor leaders have the blood of harpooned pregnant whales on their hands after another slaughter of defenceless Australian minke whales by illegal Japanese killers. 333 gentle minkes met a horrific death in Australia’s Antarctic backyard this month because Malcolm Turnbull, Josh Frydenberg and Bill Shorten did nothing. Our nation’s Federal Court says the Japanese harpooners are criminals. The World Court has found them guilty. But our politicians, instead of sending a naval vessel to confront the criminals, turned a blind eye. ‘Tut tutting does nothing’.”
It’s now up to each of us to band together and protect the whales. Become a conscientious objector and refuse to purchase any Japanese goods or services. Refuse to patronize Japanese tourism especially the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics. Support Sea Shepherd because they’ve saved 6,500 Antarctic whales from penthrite grenade-tipped harpoons.
Shame on Japan for savagely murdering sentient, intelligent whales that intend us no harm. Like a 300-pound bully deliberately beating a child to death, Japan’s disdain and cruelty towards whales and dolphins is abhorrent and repugnant.
Please support Sea Shepherd, a direct -action conservation movement, because they’re protecting our friends – the whales.
Dr Reese Halter is an award-winning broadcaster, distinguished conservation biologist and author.