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Whaling ban applauded despite fears of Japan sidestep

Published on Apr 1, 2014 11:51 AM

SYDNEY (AFP) - Australia and New Zealand on Tuesday hailed a landmark court decision that Japan must halt an annual Antarctic whale hunt, despite fears it may try to sidestep the order.

The United Nations' Hague-based International Court of Justice on Monday ruled that Japan's whaling programme was a commercial activity disguised as science and said it must revoke existing whaling licences.

A "deeply disappointed" Tokyo said it would honour the ruling but did not exclude the possibility of future whaling programmes, with New Zealand expressing concerns Japan may try to circumvent the order.

"The ICJ decision sinks a giant harpoon into the legality of Japan's whaling programme," New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully said.

An undated handout photo released on Feb 7, 2008, shows a whale (front) and another (partly seen at right) being dragged on board a Japanese ship after being harpooned in Antarctic waters. Judges at the highest UN court ordered Japan on Monday, March 30, 2014, to halt whaling in the Antarctic, rejecting the country's argument that the catch was for scientific purposes. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP
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