Slaughtered short-finned pilot whales on the deck of a
whaling boat at Taiji, Japan. Photo by Reuters.
It could be the turn of depleted northern hemisphere
whale populations next, University of Otago Assoc Prof Liz
She says they could come under threat if Japan moves its
whaling endeavours following an International Court of
Justice decision against its ''scientific'' whaling
The court's decision, announced on Monday night, that Japan's
Southern Ocean whaling programme did not serve the purposes
of scientific research and must cease was welcomed by Prof
Slooten, an invited specialist on the International Whaling
Commission's scientific committee.
''It's wonderful the court has acknowledged the problem and
the idea it was being done for scientific purposes was a sham
However, she had concerns about the impact of the decision if
Japan decided to redesign its programme and start scientific
If it shifted from the Southern Ocean to waters nearer
Japan, it could hit depleted whale populations hard.
''Instead of solving the problem, it could lead in the
northern hemisphere to greater conservation damage than in
the Southern Ocean.''
She expected next month's Whaling Commission scientific
committee meeting in Slovenia to be an interesting one, given
New Zealand is represented on the committee by scientists
from the Department of Conservation and Ministry for Primary
In the past, the scientists on the committee had come down
heavily on Japanese scientists for their poor quality work
and lack of research on whaling, Prof Slooten said.
''They'd say `this isn't science' and every year the Japanese
would say `thank you very much' and do it, anyway.
''I hope this time we'll get a different response.''
The Whaling Commission had no legislative power to stop the
Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said New Zealand
hoped Japan would respect the court's decision and not get
back into whaling.
''The ICJ decision sinks a giant harpoon into the legality of
Japan's whaling programme: Jarpa II,'' Mr McCully said.
New Zealand consistently opposed Japan's so-called
''scientific'' whaling, a practice deeply offensive to many
New Zealanders, and joined Australia's fight in the United
Nations court to stop it.