In what's being lauded as a "Victory for Whales" by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, the International Court of Justice ruled this morning that Japan's commercial whaling program is illegal and should cease immediately

“With today’s ruling, the ICJ has taken a fair and just stance on the right side of history by protecting the whales of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary and the vital marine ecosystem of Antarctica, a decision that impacts the international community and future generations,” said Capt. Alex Cornelissen of Sea Shepherd Global.

It was a decision that anti-whaling activists had waited nearly a year to hear. Pete Bethune, founder of the Earthrace Conservation Society, spent the night sleeping outside The Hague to be one of the first inside. 


During court deliberations last July, Japan once again argued that its whaling program was legal under the banner of "scientific research," a claim that has been refuted time and again by organizations all around the world. The ICJ saw through this smokescreen as well, citing Japan in breach of its international obligations by killing minke whales and issuing permits for other species within the International Whaling Committee's Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

"Japan shall revoke any existent authorisation, permit or licence granted in relation to Jarpa II [research programme] and refrain from granting any further permits in pursuance to the programme," the International Court of Justice's Judge Peter Tomka wrote in the majority decision.

In a surprising response (if only because they've been so indignant to foreign intervention on their whaling practices previously), Japan said that it would abide by the ruling, but "regrets and is deeply disappointed by the decision."

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Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

ICJ declares Japan's 'scientific whaling program' illegal
International Court of Justice confirms what everyone has known all along: Japan is engaged in impermissible commercial whaling.