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David @ Tokyo

Perspective from Japan on whaling and whale meat, a spot of gourmet news, and monthly updates of whale meat stockpile statistics



IWC 2005: Aussie media getting suspicious?

The Advertiser has an interesting article today.

A law professor in Sydney has suggested that "International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea had the power to issue an immediate injunction to stop the Japanese whaling research program".

Having read a bit about UNCLOS before, I really can't guess on what grounds the professor is putting his reputation on the line.

But what is telling here is this:
the Australian Government is unwilling to take the matter to the courts – fearing the cost and a backlash if the case was unsuccessful.

Environment Minister Senator Ian Campbell will not give reasons why the Government believes a legal challenge would fail.

"If the Australian Government – or any other international governments – thought that taking legal action would help to save whales, we would have done it by now," a spokeswoman said.

Senior Government sources said a failed challenge would enshrine "scientific" whaling in international law – ending the bid to stop it.

I've noted this before. The politicians from the big three, Australia, New Zealand and Britain are big on political rhetoric but incredibly soft on action. They know too well that Japan's programmes are absolutely legal, and that any attempts internationally to prove otherwise would result in a massive PR disaster.

The result - they do nothing but splash nonsense all through the media, and a barely interested public listens happily, not bothering to educate themselves about the details.

Unfortunately though, while the media has the brains to ask "why aren't you taking this to an international court?", they are failing to follow up on the "because we'd lose" response. It's clear that Japan's position is totally legal. In light of this, it's a moral imperitive that Australia reconsiders its own stance. Failing to do this indicates a lack of respect for international law. Laws are meant to be honoured even when they don't work in one's favour.

By the way, the cost that the government "fears" is only 500,000. This isn't much!

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Hi David,

The Governor General's inaction has nothing to do with the illegality of the Japanese Fishing Industry's whaling.

The massive and endless diplomatic horse trading which comprises the 'meat and veg' of international politics however does.

Japan could make things very unpleasant for countries like Australia and New Zealand in trade negotiations, if it so choses.
In the same way it currently bribes small non-whaling countries to join the IWC and vote for the re-introduction of whaling via 'development grants' handed out by the Japanese Fisheries Ministry and withdraws them if they dont do as they are told.

It really would be fascinating to find out why you have such an enormous chip on your shoulder about environmentalists. Did one of them steal your girlfriend?

Or do you have family who work in the fishing industry, who are currently deluding themselves that it is whales/seals/sharks/dolphins/otters or whatever wild animal is currently being used as a scapegoat by fishermen for the real culprit that is reducing fish stocks?

The real culprit is of course the unsustainable, industrial fishing of the worlds oceans, not least by unregulated, international pirate fishing fleets who are stealing the livelyhoods of local fishermen, within their own national waters.
Oh I'm sorry, what did you call the unregulated pirates in your post about Captain Watson? Ah yes,'vessels of private citizens'. Perhaps we should settle on the old term 'privateers'. :-)

- Lamna nasus
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