U.N. Court Tells Japan to Stop Its Whale Hunting

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The U.N.'s International Court of Justice ruled on Monday that Japan needs to stop its controversial and not-really-well-liked whale hunting practices. The court wasn't convinced that Japan's controversial whale kills were really done for scientific research, and the nation has longed claimed.

"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 ruled today. JARPA II, is Japan's whaling "research" program, that involves the hunts and killing of whales in the South Pacific Ocean. 

JAPRA II has drawn the ire from conservationists and anyone who may be fan of whales because, as the ICJ pointed out, it never really felt like the whales that were killed were really done in the name of research.

"I always felt the practice of 'scientific whaling' gave science (and scientists) a very bad name in the public eye,"  Paul Jepson, a wildlife population researcher at the Zoological Society of London told The Guardian. "There are many other alternative scientific methods: aerial/boat surveys; satellite telemetry; micro-dart skin biopsies, etc. that can now be used as to effectively study the health and conservation status of marine mammals populations without the need to kill them."

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In pop culture, Japan's whale hunting has been brought to light by the show Whale Warswhich details the trials of the Sea Shepherd organization and their fight (some say vigilantism) against Japanese whalers. Sea Shepherd has accused Japan's research program of being a front for banned commercial whaling. There are films like The Cove, a documentary about the Japanese practice of slaughtering dolphins, which have also shined an uncomfortable light on Japan's relentless hunting of marine mammals.

Even though JARPA II has now been outlawed, Japan is not without options. They can, and probably will, try to develop another scientific whaling program. "But it will have to prove the research cannot be done without killing whales," The Guardian reports.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.