Nonetheless, despite Sea Shepard's attempts, the annual whale hunt did continue. However in 2010 a hero stepped into the scene in the form of the Australian government, who took Japan to the UN's International Court of Justice (ICJ), citing that their 'research' programme was just a cover for commercial whaling, which of course it was. The move was largely expected to be unsuccessful, but four years later in 2014, the ICJ ruled that the Japanese whaling programme was illegal, and amongst much celebration in the international community the Japanese hunt was brought to a halt. The Japanese whaling fleet didn't set off for the 2014/2015 whale hunt, but this success was to be short-lived.
This year Japan administered itself a new research license (although it is much smaller, aiming to only catch 333 minke whales per year), and thus in November the whaling fleet set off again, and re-established its role as in international pantomime villain. So where do we go from here, seeing as a ruling from the world's highest court only seems to put a temporary stop to the hunt? Firstly, there needs to be an acceptance that hunting and eating whale is part of Japanese history and culture, and an all-out ban would not only be ignorant, but also highly hypocritical seeing as many other nations hunt wild animals too. Secondly Japan needs to stop conveying this ridiculous notion that their hunt constitutes 'scientific research' – it is widely known that there is no need to kill whales in the name of research, as non-lethal research techniques are the most effective and efficient method for studying the species. Once all parties are on the same page they can begin working together to make sure that some sort of whale hunt goes forward, but in a way that is proven to be sustainable. Once this is achieved, this nasty affair can be put away for good.
By Alistair Ross - Online Journalism Intern
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