Battle over whaling

15 February 2011

Dr Tim Stephens comments on Australia's forthcoming submission to the International Court of Justice in relation to Japan's whaling activity in the Southern Ocean in report for ABC News broadcast on the Australia Network.

Australia submits its written submissions to the International Court of Justice in May.

Australia's principle argument is that Japan's whaling program in the southern ocean is in breach of the provisions of the international convention for the regulation of whaling.

The argument revolves around the fact that the number of whales that Japan takes each year is well in excess of what could be considered a legitimate number of whales for the purposes of scientific research.

"The International Court tries wherever possible to find an outcome that is ameanable to both parties," Dr Stephens says.

"I think we should be prepared for the court in this case to say notwithstanding the strength of the legal arguments that Australia may bring, nonetheless there

may be a way for the court to avoid having to deal with them in a way that keeps both Australia and Japan happy."

According to the report, another possible complication for Australia's case is the prospect is that Japan can file a counter legal claim based on the 1988 Maritime Convention for the suppression on unlawful acts at Sea.

"The Convention is a counter-terrorism convention that requires states to prevent individuals from taking violent action against vessels," Dr Stephens adds.

"It essentially covers everything that is not piracy because piracy has quite a limited meaning.

"Arguably Sea Shepherd are in breach of this Convention."

View the video - Whaling Battle - Newsline - Australia Network

Contact: Greg Sherington

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