Japan plans to resume the controversial whaling in the Antarctic Ocean by end of March next year despite an International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling barring the country from doing so. The Japanese fisheries agency said on Saturday it will restart the whaling with a revised plan, in which it will decrease the number of annual minke whale catches by two-thirds to just over 300.
In March 2014, a 16-judge panel of the ICJ, the judicial division of the United Nations, ruled 12 to 4 that Japan’s killing of Antarctic whales -- whose meat is sold in shops and restaurants -- was not justified. The decision proved a major victory for Australian environmentalists who had filed a lawsuit with the ICJ against Japan in 2010 over the country’s whaling practices.
However, Japan’s decision to resume whaling after a break of over a year has angered New Zealand and Australia. New Zealand's Acting Foreign Minister Todd McClay on Saturday called Japan’s move “disappointing” and said the Southeast Asian country should abide by the ICJ’s ruling.
"New Zealand's long-standing and fundamental opposition to this practice remains unchanged. It is clear that Japan's research objectives can be met using non-lethal means,” McClay said, according to NZ Newswire.
Australian Environment Minister Greg Hunt said that Japan cannot “unilaterally decide” to start whaling.
“Australia strongly opposes the decision by Japan to resuming whaling in the Southern Ocean this summer,” Hunt said Saturday, according to Sky News.
Japan began whaling in 1987, a year after an international moratorium was enforced. According to the ICJ, Japan caught about 3,600 minke whales since its current whaling program started in 2005.