Australia concludes round two at the International Court of Justice

 Japan cannot justify its sample sizes for ‘scientific whaling’ and even whether it needs to kill any whales at all.Australia concluded its second round of oral arguments in the Antarctic whaling case before the International Court of Justice and reminded the court that even Japan’s own expert witness can’t support Japan’s scientific whaling  claims.

A pile of documents and transcripts in the case of Whaling in the Antarctic: Australia v. Japan with New Zealand intervening are available online.

The case has been three years in preparation and Australia has left no stone unturned in coming up with the evidence to support its case that Japan’s scientific whaling within the Southern Ocean Whale sanctuary is commercial whaling being conducted in defiance of the International Whaling Commission moratorium on commercial whaling and the sanctuary decisions.

Of course the pile contains dry legal stuff.  But most isn’t.  To give you a flavour, here is an extract from Australia’s concluding points.  The extract is on Japan’s complete lack of justification of its sample sizes, taken from Professor Philippe Sands’ statements on Wednesday morning, July 10th .  Sands refers to the Norwegian scientist, Professor Lars Walløe, who appeared as an expert witness for Japan.  Walløe’s statements proved damning for Japan’s case.

“You saw him [Professor Boyle, representing Japan] for yourselves, flailing before the Court, proclaiming that “none of us understands”. He must have been hoping for support from Professor Walløe [the Norwegian scientist called by Japan as a witness], but by the time Professor Boyle came to the Bar the lawyers had been cast adrift by their expert……”

“…….I do not really know how they have calculated the sample sizes,” Professor Walløe told the Bench.  So you have your choice, on one side of the room a consensus view: 63 members of the Scientific Committee, Professor Mangel, Dr. Gales, [Dr Gales is on the Australian delegation and Professor Mangel is a witness called by Australia] Professor Walløe, all in agreement on the absence of any explanation as to the basis for sample sizes set in the JARPA II proposal. On the other side, cutting a solitary figure, Professor Boyle, waving a textbook, telling you with a straight face and admirable aplomb: “I haven’t the foggiest idea” what it all means. Mr. President, that was as memorable a concession as I have ever seen in a courtroom.”

“…..Asked about the assumptions made by Japan for taking 50 fin and 50 humpback whales over a 12-year period, rather than the six years for the minke whales, he simply said “I never liked the fin whale proposal”  you will have picked up the tremblement on the other side of the room as those words emerged from his mouth. To compound the anguish, he then said “there are difficulties with the humpback proposal”. He then said that without knowing about the assumptions on which Japan relied, the statistical basis for Japan’s approach was “worthless”. That is his word, “worthless”. Could it get any worse, one might ask. Well, it could. Asked whether he could find a scientific explanation for the choice of 12-year periods for fin and humpback whales, as compared with six years for minke whales, he provided another clear and equally devastating answer: he said “No””


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