SYDNEY (AP) — An Australian court fined a Japanese whaling company 1 million Australian dollars ($700,000) on Wednesday for violating a court order that it stop hunting whales in an area off Antarctica.
Federal Court Justice Jayne Jagot found that Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha, the company that operates Japan's hunting ships, had repeatedly breached a 2008 court injunction to stop killing whales inside Australia's exclusive economic zone, which extends 200 nautical miles from Australian-declared territory in Antarctica.
Commercial whaling was banned in 1986, but Japan continued to kill whales under an exemption for scientific research. The country does not recognize Australia's territorial claim on the waters off Antarctica, and kept up its annual hunt despite the 2008 injunction until the International Court of Justice ruled last year that the hunts were not truly scientific.
In June, Japan said it would resume whaling in the Antarctic this year, with plans to catch 333 minke whales annually between 2015 and 2027 — about a third of its previous targets.
The Australian court action was brought forward by Humane Society International. The group's director, Michael Kennedy, said he hoped the judgment would prompt Australia's government to increase pressure on Japan to end the hunt.
Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha and the whaling division of Japan's Fisheries Agency both declined to comment on the ruling, though Japan has previously said Australia has no authority to enforce its domestic laws on the high seas.