Judge grants anti-whaling ban against Japan in Australian-claimed waters

January 15, 2008 4:57:53 AM PST
An Australian judge Tuesday banned the company that conducts Japan's whale hunt from killing the animals in a large part of its regular hunting grounds off Antarctica.

The ruling applied to an Australian-claimed wildlife sanctuary that Japan does not recognize, and it was unlikely to bring an immediate end to Japan's whale kill. But it could strain ties between Tokyo and Canberra if Japanese whalers ignore the ban and Australia is compelled to try to enforce it.

Japan has said previously it would ignore an injunction in the case if it were granted.

The Humane Society International sought an injunction in Australia's Federal Court against Japanese company Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha Ltd. to stop it whaling inside Australia's exclusive economic zone, which extends 200 nautical miles from Australian-declared territory in Antarctica and in the southern Pacific Ocean.

Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha operates the ships used by Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research to conduct its annual hunts, under a program the organization insists is for scientific purposes but that critics say is an excuse to kill whales.

"The court orders that the respondent be restrained from killing, injuring, taking or interfering with any Antarctic minke whale, fin whale or humpback whale in the Australian whale sanctuary, or treating or possessing any such whale killed or taken in the Australian whale sanctuary," Federal Court judge James Allsop said in his ruling.