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26 February 2007 - No escape from court for the whalers      

No escape from court for the whalers

Sydney, 26 February 2007                          
                                                                                                                                        

A legal halt to the annual Japanese whale slaughter in the Southern Ocean edged closer yesterday. The court case being brought by Humane Society International (HSI) has faced obstacles presented by both Australian and Japanese governments but yesterday the legal documents were finally served to the whaling company, allowing the case to proceed.

“The annual Japanese whale hunt which kills whales in Australian waters has possibly been foreshortened this year by events which have seen the tragic loss of life, but we hope no further disaster in the Southern Ocean. We are relieved that the hunt appears to be stopped for the season, but this will not deter the hunters from returning again next year, unless we can stop them with the law,” said Michael Kennedy, HSI Director.

The legal documents were served to the headquarters of Kyodo Senpaku in Tokyo last week in accordance with the federal court ruling of February 2nd. The whaling company’s representatives were unwilling to accept the documents and tried to return them to the person effecting service, but he refused to take them. Kyodo must now stop running and hiding behind their government, and face the Australian law that they have been breaking every year,” added Mr. Kennedy.

Late last year HSI were informed that in a highly unusual diplomatic move, the Japanese government had refused to serve the legal documents to Kyodo Senpaku in accordance with the usual international channels. HSI then gained court approval to serve the documents via alternative means, both in person and by registered post to the head office of the whaling company. The person who served the documents will now file an affidavit confirming the successful service which will enable the proceedings to continue. The next hearing will be in July, and HSI are optimistic of a resolution before the next whaling season begins. HSI’s able legal team consists of QC Stephen Gageler, Junior Counsel Chris McGrath and the Environmental Defender’s Office of NSW.

In relation to the damaged Japanese whaling ship still in the Antarctic, Mr Kennedy said “HSI, together with most people in Australia and beyond, urges the captain of the Nisshin Maru to act responsibly with regard to the potential disaster of having a damaged vessel close to the pristine Antarctic environment. They may also be reminded, along with the governments of Australia and New Zealand, that as signatories to the Antarctic Treaty they have an obligation to respond to the environmental emergency that this injured ship with its 1000 tonnes of toxic oil represents”. Parties to the Antarctic Treaty are obliged under the Liability Annex of the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty to take ‘prompt and effective response action’ to any environmental emergency.





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