CEO of Sea Shepherd Global, Captain Alex Cornelissen, has condemned Japan’s plans to return to the Southern Ocean to slaughter whales this austral summer.
‘The pristine waters of the Southern Ocean are once again under threat from poachers,’ said Cornelissen. ‘We would like to remind the Japanese government that the whales of the Southern Ocean are protected by international law, by Australian law and by Sea Shepherd.
‘As such, any violation of the sanctity of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary or the Australian Whale Sanctuary will be regarded as a criminal act.’
Despite on-going legal and scientific condemnation, Japan has persisted with its plans to continue poaching whales in the Southern Ocean. The Japanese Fisheries Agency has officially notified the International Whaling Commission (IWC) that it is readying the harpoons of its whaling fleet to return to the waters of Antarctica.
Sea Shepherd has again called on Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull to intervene to ensure that the whale poachers do not depart from Japan.
‘Prime Minister Turnbull has a duty to ensure that the dire matter of Japan’s whale poaching operations is at the top of the agenda when he visits Japan in December,’ said Sea Shepherd Australia managing director, Jeff Hansen.
‘It must be made clear to Japan that whaling in the Australian Whale Sanctuary is a criminal act and that Australia has the international responsiblity to intervene and arrest criminals operating in our waters.’
On March 31, 2014, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) declared Japan’s whaling program to be commercial and illegal, and ordered that it immediately cease.
Initially, the government of Japan said that it would abide by the ruling. However, within months Japan had unveiled its plans for new whaling program titled NEWREP-A, under which a further 4,000 protected Minke whales would be slaughtered over a 12-year period.
On November 18, 2015, the Australian Federal Court found the Japanese government-funded whaling company, Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha Ltd, guilty of breaching a 2008 order to stop killing whales in the Australian Whale Sanctuary, and fined it AU$1 million for the breach.