Humpback whale
IN PHOTO:A humpback whale breaches the surface off the southern Japanese island of Okinawa February 13, 2007. A special meeting of the International Whaling Commission began on Tuesday, with host Japan and like-minded countries hoping the gathering will build momentum to resume commercial hunting of the giant creatures. Reuters/Issei Kato

Australia continues its strong opposition against lethal commercial whaling activities, with Minister for the Environnment Greg Hunt releasing a statement this week condemning Japan's whaling program and attempt to exclude itself from the International Court of Justice (ICJ)in matters relating to future whaling activities.

Australian has been instrumental in protecting whales against the activities and programs that require their killing. In 2014, the country filed a case against Japan in the ICJ, noting that there was nothing scientific in Japan's “scientific whaling” program, JARPA II.

In a landmark decision, the ICJ agreed to what Australia had to say and decided that the scientific program should not continue. In response, the Japanese scientists decided to draft a new 'scientific' whaling program called NEWREP-A, which it claimed would address the shortfalls of the previous program.

The new plan was reviewed at the 2015 Scientific Committee meeting in San Diego, California, but Australian officials were disappointed to see how the plan justified the killing of whales rather than explore how to use non-lethal ways to study the animals.

However, Japanese scientists continued to strive for the implementation of their improved version of the scientific program.

Australia believes that it is absolutely unnecessary to kill whales to learn about their behaviour or biology. There are a number of non-lethal modern research techniques and methods that could be used to perform the same task, including satellite tagging, acoustic research methods, and genetic and molecular methods.

Australian officials have already met with the Japanese Government to discuss the latter's exclusion from the ICJ in matters pertaining to future whaling programs. The Australian Government is hopeful that Japan will not carry out its new scientific whaling program in the Southern Ocean this summer.

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