U.N. court orders Japan to halt whale hunt

FILE - In this file photo taken on Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014 and supplied by Sea Shepherd Australia on Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, three dead minke whales lie on the deck of the Japanese whaling vessel Nisshin Maru, in the Southern Ocean. The International Court of Justice is ruling Monday on Japan's whaling program in Antarctic waters, in a case brought by Australia. Japan hunts around a thousand mostly minke whales annually in the icy waters of the Southern Ocean as part of what it calls a scientific program. Australia and environmental groups say the hunt serves no scientific purpose and is just a way for Japan to get around a moratorium on commercial whaling imposed by the International Whaling Commission in 1986. (AP Photo/Tim Watters, Sea Shepherd Australia) EDITORIAL USE ONLY, NO SALES
FILE - In this file photo taken on Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014 and supplied by Sea Shepherd Australia on Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, three dead minke whales lie on the deck of the Japanese whaling vessel Nisshin Maru, in the Southern Ocean. The International Court of Justice is ruling Monday on Japan's whaling program in Antarctic waters, in a case brought by Australia. Japan hunts around a thousand mostly minke whales annually in the icy waters of the Southern Ocean as part of what it calls a scientific program. Australia and environmental groups say the hunt serves no scientific purpose and is just a way for Japan to get around a moratorium on commercial whaling imposed by the International Whaling Commission in 1986. (AP Photo/Tim Watters, Sea Shepherd Australia) EDITORIAL USE ONLY, NO SALES

(CNN) — The International Court of Justice ruled Monday that Japan can no longer continue its annual whale hunt, rejecting the country’s argument that it was for scientific purposes.

“Japan shall revoke any extant authorization, permit or license granted in relation to JARPA II, and refrain from granting any further permits in pursuance of that program,” the court said, referring to the research program.

The International Court of Justice is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations.

Japan’s fleet carries out an annual whale hunt despite a worldwide moratorium, taking advantage of a loophole in the law that permits the killing of the mammals for scientific research. Whale meat is commonly available for consumption in Japan.

Each year, environmental groups such as Sea Shepherd pursue the Japanese hunters in an attempt to disrupt the whaling. The resulting confrontations have led to collisions of ships and the detention of activists.

The Australian government challenged the Japanese whaling program in the International Court of Justice, leading to Monday’s ruling.

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