Backing for Rudd?s call to bring Japan to international court

By MEL MARTIN and AAP

OPPOSITION is mounting at both Japan's bid to add humpback and fin whales to its annual take, and at the Federal Government's response.

Japan hopes to increase its take of minke whale, and to add humpback and fin whales to its annual hunt, at the International Whaling Commission's (IWC) June meeting in Korea.

While the Federal Government is planning to use diplomatic means to halt the plans, opposition foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd has called for stronger action, should diplomacy fail.

"Let's not just bring the state of whaling in the Australian Antarctic Territory waters under appropriate legal scrutiny.

"Let's take the entire Japanese scientific whaling regime worldwide and put it under scrutiny before the International Court of Justice."

The States and Territories unanimously backed Mr Rudd's call, but Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell said the Government had already examined that option and had been advised against it, due to the inevitable years of debate over whether the whaling was taking place in international waters.

"Quite frankly, if the legal option was one that we thought had any chance of success, we would take it," Senator Campbell told reporters, saying the only species that would benefit would be lawyers.

As he released recovery plans for the humpback, southern right, blue, fin and sei whales, Senator Campbell said he would work at the IWC meeting to remove loopholes that allow commercial whaling.

Humane Society International is already attempting to bring Japan to account in the Australian Federal Court for killing hundreds of whales within the Australian Whale Sanctuary.

They are awaiting a judgment on whether they can proceed with the case, but attorney-general Phillip Ruddock has already said the Federal Government will not support the case as Japan does not recognise Australia's territorial claim to those waters.



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