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After the Storm: The Whaling in the Antarctic Case and the Australian Whale Sanctuary

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Document pages: 13 pages

Abstract: In March 2014 the International Court of Justice (ICJ) handed down its decision in the Whaling in the Antarctic Case between Australia and Japan, in which it found by 12 votes to four that Japan’s whaling program in the Southern Ocean was not undertaken “for the purposes of scientific research” as required by the 1946 International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW). Although this was a clear endorsement of the Australian claims, the ICJ did not rule out the practice of scientific whaling altogether. The court emphasised that the ICRW expressly allows for the conduct of scientific whaling programs, including those that are lethal and that “pursue an aim other than either conservation or sustainable exploitation of whale stocks”. The decision therefore leaves open the possibility that Antarctic whaling activities could be continued in an adjusted form. If so, it is possible that, as in past seasons, Japanese whaling vessels will pass through the Australian Whale Sanctuary (AWS) in the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) en route to Southern Ocean whaling grounds. Against this background this article considers whether Australia’s domestic legal framework applicable to cetacean conservation can be applied more effectively, or further strengthened.

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