Monday, March 31, 2014

Huge. Bigger than a whale.

Apparently Japan's whaling regime in the Southern Ocean has been deemed by the International Court of Justice to be unscientific.
Now who would have thunk it?

I've had plenty of arguments with Old Salt about modern day whaling in the Antarctic, but my final answer came when he tried to explain that it was a 'cultural thing'.
"What. With diesel powered gunboats? Thousands of nautical miles from their traditional hunting grounds?"

It's rare for 'cultural things' to dress up in a sciencie frock to justify a commercial industry, but this particular frock has been doing the hokey pokey in the Australian Whale Sanctuary and getting away with it for ages*. So it was with a glad heart that I learned the ICJ has ruled that Japan's whaling program over the last decade or so has been carried out for commercial purposes. Not scientific ones. Therefore, the court has ruled, no future permits will be issued for the Japanese to hunt whales in the Southern Ocean. There is to be no appeal.

Here's the news:

*Did you see what I did there? The shittiest sentence ever, dressed up in a frock with fractals. And it has whales in it.


  1. As I understand it: This ruling only prohibits Japon from whaling in a particular patch of water; if they slightly amend their “scientific” program, they may be able to go back to killing whales in the southern oceans off Australie; and if they choose to ignore the ruling altogether, there will be no penalties.

    On the other hand, I have heard that few Japanese are interested in eating whale meat, most are indifferent, and the numbers against are growing.

    I'm always cautious about the “cultural thing” argument. Regardless of what kind of frocks they wear, most cultures tend to have some pretty dodgy traditions which don't need to be preserved, regardless of how far they stretch back.

  2. When you say there is to be no appeal, do you really mean there will be no appeal? Japanese whaling has been deemed unscientific (by people against it) for YONKS and they keep on doing it, just ignoring international blah blahs that say stop, and pushing into fishing grounds that aren't theirs. I had it explained to me by a Japanese person that the argument that whale meat is a cultural thing is bullshit; it only became popular after WWII, that it's not a widely-eaten traditional food. You watch, they'll find a way around it and that's partly what makes me rage about it. The attitude for years, the flouting of all attempts to stop or control them.

  3. Melba and Alex, I'd watch and wait.
    The Japanese government have said they will respect this decision. Whether or not this means they will slippery slide into another form of 'scientific whaling' remains to be seen. The fact is that under the current circumstances, no more permits will be issued for them to continue whaling in the near future. When it comes to appeals, I meant that the ICJ stated that there is to be no avenue for appeals against their final decision.

  4. Let's hope it turns out to have an effect.