Whales to get their day in court as World Court hearing of Japanese whaling case begins

Whales to get their day in court as World Court hearing of Japanese whaling case
Wednesday, 26 June, 2013
The Hague, Netherlands

The International Court of Justice hearing of Australia’s case against Japanese whaling in the Antarctic, which opens tomorrow (Wed) is welcomed by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) which believes the sham of so-called scientific whaling will be exposed for all to see.

Independent panels of international legal experts reviewing Japan’s scientific whaling programme have consistently found it ‘unlawful’ under international law* and IFAW trusts that the International Court of Justice hearing will have a similar outcome.

IFAW believes Japan’s scientific whaling is merely commercial whaling by another name.

Patrick Ramage, Director of IFAW’s Global Whale Programme, said: “In the court of public opinion, the verdict is already in. Commercial whaling, whether conducted openly or under the guise of science is a cruel and outdated practice which produces no science of value. Japanese taxpayers are being forced to subsidise an industry that is dying in the water and the marketplace in the 21st Century. We are glad that this issue will be thoroughly examined by the World Court.

“While we look forward to the judgment from the International Court of Justice in the coming months, we urge Japan to call an end to its Antarctic whaling now, and avoid further embarrassment and damage to its international reputation.”

The Court’s decision will be important not only for whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, but for future compliance with all multilateral environmental agreements.**

Since the global moratorium on commercial whaling was introduced in 1986, Japan has killed more than 14,000 whales in the name of science, the vast majority of these in the Southern Ocean.

Scientific analysis of footage of Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean has shown whales taking more than half an hour to die. IFAW works in whaling countries to promote whale watching as a humane and sustainable alternative that is better for whales and for coastal communities.


For more information or interviews please contact Patrick Ramage in The Hague on +1 (508) 776 0027. Alternatively contact Clare Sterling at IFAW on +44 (0)20 7587 6708, mobile +44 (0)7917 507717 or email csterling@ifaw.org

Notes to Editors –
* IFAW has previously convened a series of legal panels (between 2006 and 2009) in response to the escalating scale of scientific whaling by Japan, coupled with the inability of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to address the issue of scientific whaling, in part due to Japan’s tactic of vote-buying at the IWC.

** The ICJ case is not about a contravention to one or a mere handful of provisions of a specific convention, but instead involves a large number of provisions in force through seven international treaties which form an important part of international environmental law. Four international legal panels found that Japanese scientific whaling compromises compliance with a large number of provisions of:
• The International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling;
• The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea;
• The Convention on Biological Diversity;
• The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora;
• The Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources;
• The Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals;
• The Environmental Protocol of the Antarctic Treaty.

About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Press Contact

Clare Sterling (IFAW, UK)
Contact phone:
+44 (0)20 7587 6708
Contact mobile:
+44 (0)7917 507717
Contact email:
Patrick Ramage (IFAW, HQ)
Contact mobile:
+1 (508) 776 0027
Contact email:


Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Beth Allgood, Country Director, United States
Country Director, United States
Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Senior Advisor, Policy Development
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation Program
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Senior Vice President
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Jason Bell, Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation
Sonja Van Tichelen, Vice President of International Operations
Vice President of International Operations
Staci McLennan, Director, EU Office
Director, EU Office
Tania McCrea-Steele, Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime