Whale meat on sale at the Tsukiji fish market in Japan, photo: Stefan Powell.
Threatened for some time now, Australia has begun legal action against Japan to stop whaling in the Southern Ocean. Formal proceedings will begin in The Hague next week and would lead to a provisional order for Japan to halt whaling ahead of a full hearing. As you might imagine, the Japanese fisheries ministry isn't too pleased:
"We will continue to explain that the scientific whaling that we are conducting is lawful in accordance with article eight of the international convention for the regulation of whaling," said the ministry's deputy press secretary Hidenobu Sobashima. Mr Sobashima said the issue "shouldn't jeopardize the overall good relations between Japan and Australia". (BBC News)
Indeed, Australian officials echo the sentiment of cordiality, with Foreignn Minister Stephen Smith saying, "Whatever our differences on whaling, this issue should not be allowed to jeopardize the strength and the growth of our bilateral relationship." (Reuters)
Whaling Peace Plan Ironically Declares War on Whales
All of this comes as a so-called 'peace plan' proposed by the International Whaling Commission continues to move forward, which would legalize commercial whaling with stricter quotas--the very type Japan now conducts under the guise of lethal scientific research, permitted under the decades-old international ban on whaling.
More on Whaling:
Australia Sets Deadline For Japan to End Whaling or Face Legal Action
Japan Kills Sea Shepherd Anti Whaling Ship. For Scientific Research?
Minke Whale Genetics Study Shows Faulty Logic in Japan's Pro-Whaling Argument