World Court rules Japan’s whaling not for scientific purposes

Monday March 31, 2014

The International Court of Justice has ruled that Japan’s whaling programme is not for scientific purposes, in a landmark decision tonight.

After years of protest and diplomatic wrangling, the court in The Hague ruled by 12 votes to 4 that Japan does not have the right to hunt whales in the Antarctic. The decision is binding so Japan can not appeal.

“The court concludes that the special permits granted by Japan for the killing, taking and treating of whales in connection with JARPA II are not for purposes of scientific research,” President Peter Tomka told the International Court of Justice tonight.

The court ruled Tokyo should cease its whaling programme “with immediate effect”.

New Zealand helped Australia to haul Japan before the courts accusing Japan of exploiting a loophole in the rules by saying they are hunting whales for scientific purposes.

Japan says it’s necessary to kill a small number of whales to find out more about them. In the last 20 years, 10,000 whales have been slaughtered in the name of science.

The case started in 2010 but during a three-week hearing last year, New Zealand and Australia argued Tokyo’s programme was just a commercial operation in disguise.

However, Japan argued the court didn’t have the right to decide what is and isn’t science.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully said it was a complex case.

“The big issue for us is whether we do see a pathway out of whaling in the Southern Ocean from Japan’s perspective and that’s what we’ll be looking for in the small print of the court’s decision.”

In 1986 commercial whaling was banned but several countries like Norway and Iceland continue to practise it and remain members of the commission. Japan reverted to the 1940s regulations that allow hunting for scientific purposes but there are no rules on how many whales can be killed.

The Sea Shepherd protest ship has been working to stop whaling in the Southern Ocean. The ship has collided with whaling boats, dragged ropes in the water to damage propellers and used smoke bombs.

Sea Shepherd campaigner Pete Bethune says it’s “judgment day for Japan… the stakes couldn’t be higher”.


Who’s the Real Anti?

When it comes to hunting, I’m definitely an “anti.” As I point out in my book, Exposing the Big Game: “Not only am I anti-hunting, I’m avidly anti-trapping, anti-seal clubbing and anti-whaling. For that matter, I’m anti any form of bullying that goes on against the innocents—including humans. I am not an apologist for the wanton inhumanity of hunting in the name of sport, pseudo-subsistence or conservation-by-killing.”

Most of all, I’m pro-wildlife, pro-nature and pro-animal.

If you’re following this blog, you probably feel the same. According to hunters, you’re one of the “antis.” Hunters like to stereotype us all with a negative brush stroke, yet they are the real “antis.”

Hunters are anti-wildlife, anti-wilderness, anti-nature and when it comes down to it, anti-animal. Most of all, they’re anti-competition, i.e., they’re anti-cougar, anti-coyote and unquestionably anti-wolf. Just ask the Idaho Anti-Wolf Coalition, who tried to get an initiative on the ballot in 2008 calling for the removal of “all” of the wolves in their state, “by whatever means necessary.”

Now, you might be thinking, “Surely hunters aren’t always negative; they must be pro-something?” Well, you’d be right—they’re pro-killing, pro-death, and when it comes right down to it, pro-animal cruelty.

Let’s face it, you can’t kill an animal without being cruel; and therein lies the real reason I’m anti-hunting.

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2012. All Rights Reserved

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2012. All Rights Reserved

Ignorance is Such Selfish Bliss

Practically every day I receive ignorant comments from hunters which reinforce my theory that—despite their overweening attitude—their understanding of the science of biology is inherently lacking. Just yesterday I trash-canned a comment from a defensive sportsman who obliviously declared, “You might be related to primates, but I’m not,” before going on to accuse me of being ignorant!

Another well-worn classic hunter excuse I hear on a weekly basis—one that must be a contender for the top ten feeblest rationalizations for hunting of all time—is some variation of the ridiculous notion that, “Our sharp teeth are proof that we’re meant to be carnivores.” I could go on all day refuting this absurd figment, but I don’t want to bore the educated reader with something so off-base. (If you happen to be one of those who consider that statement an accepted truth, please take some time to look it up and learn a little about physical anthropology and humankind’s ancestry.)

The history of how Homo sapiens became the species we are today harkens back a bit farther than 10,000 years (as young-Earth creationists believe) or even 100,000 years, as those who tout the caveman diet might suppose. Every species here today has an extensive backstory. As you may well know, we all started out as sea creatures at one time (long before the first biped sharpened the first stone for butchering carrion).

During the reign of the dinosaurs, all of us mammals were rodent-sized creatures who scurried about and tried to stay out from under foot. After the extinction spasm that ended the dinosaur’s days, mammals had a chance to flourish and diversify. Some went through more radical changes than others.

Whales were once wolf-like mammals that returned to the sea between 60 and 37 million years ago, in the early Eocene epoch, eventually becoming the largest animal ever to grace the oceans or the Earth. In terms of physical changes, our species’ story is nowhere near as dramatic as that of the whales. But as far as our impact on all other life forms, it’s a doozy.

No other species of animal has come from such humble beginnings as a tree shrew, progressed through the monkey-types and on to forest-dwelling apes, only to climb down out of the acacia and kill off the largest, mightiest or most numerous of species. But rather than weighing on our species’ collective conscience, it’s gone to our collective head, in the form of an over-inflated ego that is a key trait of the genus Homo. No other species can claim responsibility for changing the Earth’s climate to the detriment of all life or—Homo sapiens’ crowning achievement—causing a planet-wide mass extinction event.

As blissful as it must be to have our collective head in the clouds, when it comes to human origins, it’s critical that we come down to Earth once in a while and keep ourselves informed of reality, lest ignorance facilitate our own demise.

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson