Whales in the Southern Ocean can swim in peace for now, after the International Court of Justice—the United Nations’ judicial body—suspended Japan’s annual massacre.
Despite worldwide condemnation, Japan has continued to slaughter whales in defiance of the International Whaling Commission moratorium on commercial whaling, which went into effect in 1986. Even though whale flesh is widely available in Japan, the thinly disguised commercial whaling operation has been defended as “scientific research.” The court found that those claims were unfounded. People have been mesmerized watching the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s actions to interrupt the hunt on the television show Whale Wars.
“In light of the fact the [research program] has been going on since 2005, and has involved the killing of about 3,600 minke whales, the scientific output to date appears limited,” said U.N. Presiding Judge Peter Tomka.
But the fight isn’t over yet. While Japan must suspend the carnage in the Southern Ocean, the court’s ruling does not stop the country’s second, smaller killing program in the northern Pacific. And both Norway and Iceland brazenly continue to kill minke whales.