With a much-anticipated decision from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague due on March 31 in the case of Australia v. Japan, the captains of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, who have famously defended at-risk whales from Japanese whalers’ harpoons in the Southern Ocean for 10 years, have issued the following statement in support of the whales migrating through the Antarctic, particularly in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary:
Statement in favor of the whales migrating throughout the Antarctic region
We appear before the international community, in the context of the case concerning Whaling in the Antarctic (Australia v. Japan), to advocate in favor of the whales migrating throughout the Antarctic region, especially in the area designated as the Southern Ocean Sanctuary. We aim at highlighting the international legal status of whales as marine protected species. Our arguments are based upon ten years of in situ experience in defending humpback, fin and minke whales in the Antarctic, especially in the area designated as the Southern Ocean Sanctuary.
States that are parties of the whaling case, as it is known by the public, have focused on whaling; and, more specifically, in its scientific or commercial nature. In contrast, the whales, and their international legal protection, have not been at its center. We, therefore advocate for the whales to be given greatest relevance. They are marine species protected by international law and they migrate throughout a whale sanctuary where commercial whaling is prohibited by the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW).
Historically, whales have been overfished to the extent that certain species have become depleted. This is a reality acknowledged by international law (ICRW). In recent decades, the international community has also acknowledged that whaling has endangered some species to the brink of its extinction. As a result, the international community has called upon the protection of these marine mammals through international law. Treaties have been adopted to provide protection to some whale species. Today, humpback, fin and minke whales are listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), and the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) as threatened or endangered species.
In the context of CITES, to date, there are 178 States that are Parties to this convention. Considering that there are 193 member States to the United Nations, CITES numbers reflect that 92.23% of the world agrees that these three whale species are, in fact, threatened with extinction.
In contrast, Japan and three other States -accounting for only 2.25% of State Parties- have entered reservations to the listing of these species in CITES Appendix I.
Out of the three whale species, the most dramatic scenario is for fin whales, which are also listed as endangered in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. According to this document, an endangered species is considered to be facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild. It is important to note that, when referring to ¨major threats¨ to this species, the Red List expressly refers to Japanese ¨experimental catches¨ in the Antarctic.
Whales are gentle, sentient and sapient beings, capable of communicating among each other. Experts agree about whales’ brains having evolved in conjunction with complex cognitive abilities. Whales, however, cannot speak for themselves before the international community. We can and we advocate for greatest legal protection to the whales migrating throughout the Antarctic region, in the context of the case concerning Whaling in the Antarctic (Australia v. Japan).
Whales are not only the concern of State Parties of this case, but are a common concern of humankind. This statement is, hence, founded upon principles 21 and 24 of the World Charter for Nature; and invokes -without assuming the role of representatives of humankind- a human duty to safeguard nature, as well as to ensure that the objectives of the Charter are met, by means of advocating in favor of the whales migrating throughout the Antarctic region.
Whales should no longer be killed; neither for commercial nor for scientific purposes.
Read the full Statement in Favor of Whales
Signed by (alphabetical order)
|Captain Sid Chakravarty||Captain Alex Cornelissen|
|Captain Peter Hammarstedt||Captain Lockhart MacLean|
|Captain Adam Meyerson||Captain Luis Manuel Pinho|
|Captain Jean Yves Terlain||Captain Paul Watson|