All these agreements include Australia, New Zealand, and Japan are signatories and are therfore all legally bound to uphold and enforce these international treaties.
New Zealand Environment Minister Chris Carter has called Sea Shepherd Conservation Society "irresponsible" for attempting to enforce international law through direct intervention.
“We are willing to withdraw this year to allow New Zealand and/or Australia to exercise their responsibilities to safeguard the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary, to uphold the rules of CITES, and their responsibility to the International Whaling Commission,” Said Captain Paul Watson from onboard the Farley Mowat off the coast of Antarctica. “We are willing to allow governments the opportunity to do their duty. It is only when governments fail to do their duty that non-governmental organizations are forced to intervene. The bottom line is that if New Zealand or Australia were doing their job, we would not be down here.” said Watson
New Zealand's representative at the International Whaling Commission, Sir Geoffrey Palmer, said under international law there is no legal argument New Zealand could use to stop the whaling. He said that after looking at the legal situation for months, but New Zealand's only recourse is diplomatic action to change international law.
But New Zealand Greens conservation spokeswoman, Metiria Turei said the Government should use the Antarctic Treaty and the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species to stop the whaling.
The Sea Shepherd ship, Farley Mowat, is about 100 miles from the whaling fleet off the Mawson coast of Antarctica. Captain Watson has said he would not attack the Japanese whaling fleet for 48 hours to give an opportunity for the Australian and New Zealand Governments to act responsibly and initiate legal action against Japan.
Paul G. Buchanan, a lecturer in comparative politics and security affairs at the University of Auckland has warned of the geopolitical consequences in the escalating conflict in the Southern Ocean and the problems for Australia and New Zealand in not taking an active observation role of the increasing conflict in the southern ocean.
"...the way things are going, the confrontation between the whalers and environmentalists is headed towards a possible human tragedy (above and beyond the tragedy of the whales). With physical confrontations escalating, the potential for loss of life at sea has dramatically increased. For no other reason than its ability to conduct search and rescue operations if needed, the RNZN would be wise to station an vessel capable of serving as a platform for such operations in the vicinity of the whaling fleet. The whalers are easy to find and the RNZN need not intervene in the dispute. All it has to do is shadow and be in close proximity in the event things go south and an unfortunate incident occurs. Being on station in the area will also allow it to monitor the activities of both whalers and anti-whalers for signs of illegality under the laws of the sea and conventions regarding scientific whaling. That may not guarantee the safety of potential human victims, but it would show determination to use military assets for humanitarian purposes and in upholding international law regardless of the specifics of the dispute." said Buchanan.
Paul Watson details the crimes being committed by Japan:
- The Japanese are whaling in violation of the International Whaling Commission's global moratorium on commercial whaling. The IWC scientific committee does not recognize this bogus research that the Japanese are using as an excuse.
- The Japanese are killing whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
- The Japanese are killing whales unlawfully in the Australian Antarctic Territory.
- The Japanese are targeting fin whales this year and humpback whales next year. These are endangered species, and thus, this is a violation of CITES, the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna.
- The Japanese are in violation of IWC regulation 19(a). The IWC regulations in the Schedule to the Convention forbid the use of factory ships to process any protected stock: "19. (a) It is forbidden to use a factory ship or a land station for the purpose of treating any whales which are classified as Protection Stocks in paragraph 10. Paragraph 10(c) provides a definition of Protection Stocks and states that Protection Stocks are listed in the Tables of the Schedule. Table 1 lists all the baleen whales, including minke, fin, and humpback whales and states that all of them are Protection Stocks.
- In addition, the IWC regulations specifically ban the use of factory ships to process any whales except minke whales: Paragraph 10(d) provides: “(d) Notwithstanding the other provisions of paragraph 10 there shall be a moratorium on the taking, killing or treating of whales, except minke whales, by factory ships or whale catchers attached to factory ships. This moratorium applies to sperm whales, killer whales and baleen whales, except minke whales.” Fin and humpback whales are both baleen whales and are subject to this moratorium.
Obligation and duty to Act
Under the UN World Charter for Nature (1982), individuals singly and collectively have an obligation and duty to safeguard nature against illegal activities:
s. 21: States and, to the extent they are able, other public authorities, international organizations, individuals, groups and corporations shall:
S.24: Each person has a duty to act in accordance with the provisions of the present Charter; acting individually, in association with others or through participation in the political process, each person shall strive to ensure that the objectives and requirements of the present charter are met.
- (c) Implement the applicable international legal provisions for the conservation of nature, and the protection of the environment;
- (d) Ensure that activities within their jurisdiction , or control do not cause damage to the natural systems located within other States or in the areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction;
- (e) safeguard and conserver nature in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
- Greenpeace Ocean Defenders Blog
- Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
- Institute of Cetacean Research website
- Sea Shepherd Willing to Withdraw in Return for Action from Governments - Sea Shepherd News - 13 Jan, 2006
- Greens call for urgent action on whaling - Stuff 13 Jan, 2006
- Diplomacy only way to stop whaling - Newstalk ZB 14 Jan, 2006
- - Scoop.co.nz 12 Jan, 2006