UK & World News
World Court Orders Halt To Japanese Whaling
Japan has been ordered to halt hunting whales in the Antarctic by an international court, after ruling it was "not scientific".
Australia brought the case against Japan to end whaling in the icy Southern Ocean.
Japan hunts around a thousand mostly minke whales each year as part of what it claims is a scientific programme.
But Australia and environmental groups dispute this, arguing it is just a way for Japan to get around a moratorium on commercial whaling imposed by the International Whaling Commission in 1986.
The meat, considered a delicacy by some in Japan, is sold commercially.
Reading a judgement by the Hague-based International Court of Justice, presiding judge Peter Tomka of Slovakia said Japan has not justified the large number of minke whales it takes, while failing to meet much smaller targets for fin and humpback whales.
He said: "The evidence does not establish that the programme's design and implementation are reasonable in relation to achieving its stated objectives."
The court ordered Japan to halt any issuing of whaling permits until the scheme had been overhauled.
Japan has said it will abide by the verdict of the UN's highest court, which settles disputes between nations.
But it does not herald the end of whaling, which was once widespread around the world.
Japan has a second, smaller programme in the northern Pacific.
And Norway and Iceland reject the 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling.
Japan had argued that Australia's legal action was an attempt to impose its own cultural conventions, equivalent to Hindus demanding an international ban on killing cows.