Japan Ought to Halt Whaling Program in Antarctic, Court Says
Japan Ought to Halt Whaling Program in Antarctic, Court SaysReuters

Japan's yearly whaling drive off Antarctica has been banned by UN's International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Monday.

The decision came after the case was brought in May 2010 by Australia stating that the program has been drifted from its scientific research to commercial purposes as asserted by Tokyo.

The court halts the Japanese program stating that since 1988, Japan has captured over10,000 minke along with other whales in the southern ocean each year in the name of biological research.

Though the judgment is final, the law has granted another rule that allows the Japanese to continue hunting whales under a redesigned program, said Nanami Kurasawa, head of the marine conservation group in Tokyo.

"It's an important decision, but it also leaves the Japanese Government a lot of leeway. The Japanese Government could start research whaling again, but under a different name, and it would be out of the ruling's purview." New York Times quoted Kurasawa.

The court decision however, doesn't affect the smaller hunts that are carried out in the northern Pacific

The judgment on Monday read out that it has withdrawn all permits and licenses for whaling in Antarctica and abstain from issuing any new permits.

The slaughtered whale meats were commercially sold in Japan and the Government has argued that several species of whales including minke are abundant.

It has repeatedly clashed with Australia and some other western nations, which strongly oppose whaling on conservation grounds.

Japan has argued that minke whales and a number of other species are plentiful and that its whaling activities are sustainable.

"The myth that this hunt was in any way scientific can now be dismissed once and for all," BBC News quoted Willie MacKenzie, a spokesman for Greenpeace UK as saying.