Environmental Policy News

Japanese Whaling Company Loses in Court, Still Planning to Kill Whales

The federal court in Australia has found Japanese whaling company Kyodo Senpaku guilty of contempt of court for killing minke whales in the Australian Whale Sanctuary, in breach of a 2008 injunction and Australian law. Brought by the Humane Society International, Australia, the legal case resulted in the court fining Kyodo $1million (AUS), or $250,000 (AUS) for every year of whaling in the Sanctuary, one of the largest fines imposed under the Australian Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.


Judge Jayne Jagot commented on the “deliberate, systematic and sustained” conduct of Kyodo in killing these whales, and took into account that Kyodo did not appear at the trial. In imposing the fine, the Judge said it needed to be significantly large in order to “denounce the conduct of Kyodo” and to act as a deterrent to other whalers. The Judge said that whether or not Kyodo can pay the fine, or whether it would cause a financial burden on Kyodo, was not a relevant consideration.

Australia’s judgement has increased calls by Humane Society International and The Humane Society of the United States to increase diplomatic pressure for Japan to abide by an International Court of Justice ruling to stop whale killing in the Southern Ocean. Japan is poised to defy that ruling with a revised ‘research’ whaling program beginning next month to kill 4,000 minke whales in the Southern Ocean (333 whales every year between 2015 and 2027).

Kitty Block, vice president of Humane Society International, said: “Our Australian colleagues have won an historic victory for whales, and the court found decisively that Japan blatantly defied Australian law by killing whales in its Sanctuary waters. It is now imperative that whale-friendly nations across the world come together to increase maximum pressure on Japan to abide by the legally agreed moratorium on commercial whaling and stop trying to work around it. Hundreds more whales are set to die next month for a bogus whaling program that has no scientific justification.”

Michael Kennedy, HSI/Australia director, said: “If the Japanese Government sanctions whaling in Antarctic waters by Kyodo again this year, as we fear it will, and Kyodo continues to ignore the 2008 injunction and the decision of the Federal Court, it is critical that the Australian Government raises this issue with the Japanese Government in the most forceful way possible.”

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.

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