Shepherd Dreyfus makes whalers look like Moby Dicks

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(Image via greenpeace.org)

In a landmark ruling by the International Court of Justice, Australia looks like it has ended Japanese whaling in the Antarctic. Contributing editor-at-large Tess Lawrence reports.

Moby Dickheads versus the Whale

Konichiwa. It is a kujira of a victory. Hai, a whale of a victory. Moby Dickheads versus the Whale!

After a four-year legal sumo wrestle, the International Court of Justice, based at The Hague's Peace Palace, this week voted 12 to four in favour of Australia and New Zealand, ruling that Japan's bloody barbaric and violent whale cull is not for scientific purposes and ordered that the Antarctic slaughter must stop.

The ICJ is the United Nation's Court and those who appear before it agree that its decision is final and there is no appeal.

Here, for your record, are the critical findings of the Court:

In that Judgment, which is final, without appeal and binding on the Parties, the Court,

(1)  finds, unanimously, that it has jurisdiction to entertain the Application filed by Australia on 31 May 2010;

(2)  finds, by twelve votes to four, that the special permits granted by Japan in connection with JARPA II do not fall within the provisions of Article VIII, paragraph 1, of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling;

(3)  finds, by twelve votes to four, that Japan, by granting special permits to kill, take and treat fin, humpback and Antarctic minke whales in pursuance of JARPA II, has not acted in conformity with its obligations under paragraph 10 (e) of the Schedule to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling;

(4)  finds, by twelve votes to four, that Japan has not acted in conformity with its obligations under paragraph 10 (d) of the Schedule to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling in relation to the killing, taking and treating of fin whales in pursuance of JARPA II;

(5)  finds, by twelve votes to four, that Japan has not acted in conformity with its obligations under paragraph 7 (b) of the Schedule to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling in relation to the killing, taking and treating of fin whales in the “Southern Ocean Sanctuary” in pursuance of JARPA II;

(6)  finds, by thirteen votes to three, that Japan has complied with its obligations under paragraph 30 of the Schedule to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling with regard to JARPA II;

(7) decides, by twelve votes to four, that Japan shall revoke any extant authorization, permit     or licence granted in relation to JARPA II, and refrain from granting any further permits in pursuance of that programme.

Japan's Kyodo News Network reported that although Yoshihide Suga, Japan's chief cabinet secretary was "deeply disappointed", as a country that respects the rule of law, Japan would comply with the decision.

Politicians and officials alike, were clearly singing from the same whalesong sheet.

Over at The Japan Times, they reported that:

Koji Tsuruoka, the official who represented the Japanese government in the case, told reporters that Tokyo will comply with the judgment as a country that respects the rule of law, but expressed deep disappointment with the order to “revoke” any permit or license for whaling in the specified area.

.... Matthew Collis, marine campaigns manager at the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said in Sydney that the decision is a “major victory for whaling conservation in international law” and called on Tokyo to abide by the court’s ruling.

.... Jeff Hansen, managing director of Sea Shepherd Australia, said the ruling was the correct one.

“Sea Shepherd has been upholding the Australian Federal Court ruling and the International Court has just acknowledged what Japan is doing is illegal. It’s a real testament to Sea Shepherd and all its supporters and Capt. Paul Watson, all these years and his efforts,” Hansen said, adding that he hopes Japan will respect the decision.

“Our hope is that Japan can be a nation that loves whales and sees the huge benefit from eco-tourism that Australia does, which was also a nation that used to hunt whales,” he said.'

And so we did. Big time.

In fact, we only stopped the commercial kill as recently as 1978, mostly because of the declining interest in whale products and the effective activism of conservation groups and Greenpeace's first Australian campaign, whose supporters went out to sea and positioned themselves as human shields between the deadly harpoons and the whales.

Today we owe much to the Sea Shepherd, its crews and supporters and its charismatic founder Captain Paul Watson for shaming and galvanising the former Australian Government out of its judicial inertia.

Time and again, the Shepherds placed themselves in the line of harpoon firepower and incurred the wrath of Japan's whale death squads.

These unarmed warriors relentlessly took on Japan's furtive whaling fleet, publicly exposing their illegal transgressions, often foiling kills and filming the cruel and grisly harpoonings that unquestionably inflicts agonising and painful deaths upon these magnificent giants of the sea, that, like us, suckle their young.

And like us, they have four chambers to their mighty hearts.

Whales are stalked and harassed, hunted down and chased to near-death exhaustion.

Sometimes the cetaceans drown in their own blood — an ignoble and brutal indictment of our arrogant dominion over creatures great and small.

Then they have that lethal weapon to look forward to.

Norway's kindly-looking Svend Foyn – a whaling and shipping magnate – 'modernised' the harpoon into a gun that features an exploding warhead — much like the weapons we humans use upon one another.

In his powerful 1892 novel, Moby-Dick, author Herman Melville is merciless in the description of the    harpoon.

In most land animals there are certain valves or flood gates in many of their veins, whereby when wounded, the blood is in some degree at least instantly shut off in certain directions. Not so with the whale; one of whose peculiarities is, to have an entire non-valvular structure of the blood-vessels, so that when pierced even by so small a point as a harpoon, a deadly drain is at once begun upon his whole arterial system; and when this is heightened by the extraordinary pressure of water at a great distance below the surface, his life may be said to pour from him in incessant streams. Yet so vast is the quantity of blood in him, and so distant and numerous its interior fountains, that he will keep thus bleeding and bleeding for a considerable period; even as in a drought a river will flow, whose source is in the well springs of far off and undiscernible hills.

Despite the finessing of weaponry and factory ships, the stark and raw brutality of the kill remains unchanged.

It must be said that it took extraordinary political and moral courage for Australia to throw the legal grappling hook that reeled Japan into the International Court.

As a nation, it was a risk worth taking and all who worked on the case are to be congratulated. 

Initially, former Environment Minister Peter Garrett was enjoying most of the kudos for the ICJ decision.

It was in fact, the former Attorney- General Mark Dreyfus, with his spirited in-person legal representation and legal teamsters and researchers/investigators, who won the case for Australia in  court at the Peace Palace. And it was unquestionably the physical and visual efforts of the Sea Shepherd and other activists in that other Peace Palace, the international court of public opinion, that provided the evidence of the bleeding obvious. 

Peter Garrett: What did he do when the batts were burning?

Garrett, against the backdrop of the Royal Commission into the Home Insulation Program, better known as the 'Pink Batts Royal Commission' is struggling to protect what is left of his political legacy.

The former frontman for Midnight Oil might well be asked not about the spectacular 'Oils' hit what will you do when the 'Beds are burning', but rather — what did he do when the batts were burning?

But Mark Dreyfus QC was soon on deck, reclaiming his moment in the Netherlands sun. Few would have been prepared to put their political necks on the line in such an international forum and risk public approbation if he failed.  

Last July, the ABC reported that the (then):

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus has angrily rejected Japanese claims that the Australian Government has "outsourced" its anti-whaling campaign to controversial activist group Sea Shepherd.

Mr Dreyfus was speaking as he wrapped up Australia's legal challenge to the whaling program at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Click here to open up a PDF and transcript of Dreyfus's advocacy on July 9 last year.

He takes the floor on Page 14.

When the freshly minted Member for Isaacs, Mark Dreyfus QC made his maiden speech in Federal Parliament on February 18, 2008, he said:

Environmental issues will be a major part of our political life...We need to care for the land, to think of the land as our ‘country’, in the Aboriginal sense of the word...It can only sustain us short term if we sustain it long term...

First speeches are full of hopes. I hope that on the day on which I last sit in this place I will be able to re-read this first speech and recognise its themes in what I will, by then, have done here.

Dreyfus told Radio National's Fran Kelly:

"There are no certainties in litigation ... it was a very hard case."

He then invited Japan to join Australia in non-lethal whale research.

'We've shown what Australia can achieve as a nation if we are willing to stand up and fight for what we believe in,' he said.

But Mr Dreyfus admitted that the final ruling would not stop commercial whaling entirely, and he has called on the Abbott government to take further action against Japan.

'What they haven't done is to completely order cessation for all time, and that's something that our new government is going to have to take up with Japan,' he said.

Next week, Prime Minister Tony Abbott will meet with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo, for trade talks.

Shinzo San has just raised Japan's sales taxes. Sounds familiar.

So, perhaps Mr Abbott should pack some prime kangaroo steaks in his tuckerbag; we eat the critters on our coat of arms and legs.

There is also the possibility, of course, that Prime Minister Abe might make a point and serve whalemeat at the State dinner for Abbott. 

It is said that revenge is a dish best served cold.

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