Intervening in the International Court of Justice case brought by Australia against Japan on Monday, Attorney General Chris Finlayson said the treaty’s purpose was not the protection of commercial whaling.
Instead Finlayson told the ICJ in The Hague that the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling was intended to be for the conservation and development of whale stocks.
Its key article eight on “special permit” scientific whaling, which is being argued before ICJ, did not give carte blanche to any member country to sidestep the rest of the treaty, he said.
Under the article, Japan currently issues its whalers with permits to kill up to 935 minke whales, 50 fin whales, and 50 humpback whales in the Antarctic.
Over 26 years more than 10,000 whales have been killed in the programme, including 18 fin whales, but the humpback quota has been suspended.
Japan told the court last week that article eight unambiguously said decision-making power on permits rested with the state party concerned.
Finlayson said Japan had tried to sew together snippets of the article to construct a blanket exemption from other parts of the treaty.
“Far from creating a blanket exemption, the words create an obligation on the contracting government to operate within the words of the convention when issuing a special permit,” Finlayson said.
Japan’s claims that their whaling is scientific research is farcical. You don’t need to kill 1,000 whales a year for research, and you don’t turn the whales into food, if it is for research.
I don’t have a problem with whaling, if it is sustainable. But I do have a problem with Japan not honouring its international commitments.