Matthew Backhouse

Matthew Backhouse is an APNZ news reporter based in Wellington.

Transtasman whaling case begins today

A whale being dragged on board a Japanese ship after being harpooned in Antarctic waters. Photo / AFP
A whale being dragged on board a Japanese ship after being harpooned in Antarctic waters. Photo / AFP

A transtasman court case against Japan's whaling programme begins in The Hague today.

Australia initiated proceedings in the International Court of Justice in 2010, alleging Japan has been carrying out commercial whaling under the guise of its scientific whaling programme.

It alleges that is in breach of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling and other international obligations to preserve marine mammals and the ocean environment.

Australian lawyers will present their opening arguments before the court today, followed by Japan's lawyers next week.

New Zealand applied to intervene in the case in November last year. As an intervening party, New Zealand will also have the chance to present oral arguments against Japan's whaling programme.

Attorney-General Chris Finlayson will make a 90-minute submission to the court on July 8. He will travel to The Hague on Sunday to hear Japan's submissions before putting forward New Zealand's case.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully earlier said he was pleased New Zealand was able to put its views on the proper interpretation of the Whaling Convention before the court.

"As a member of the International Whaling Commission, New Zealand has an interest in ensuring that the IWC works effectively and that the Whaling Convention is properly interpreted and applied.

"New Zealand will continue to work to end whaling in the Southern Ocean."

The case is set down for three weeks, with a second round of oral arguments from Australia and Japan set to follow New Zealand's submission.

- APNZ

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