Thriving since the beginning of time, whales are large aquatic mammals who mostly roam the polar regions of the oceans such as the Arctic Ocean.An estimated 85 existent whale species roam waters across in the earth.
Due to today's ongoing harpooning of whales, 7 out of 13 whales are endangered.
Tension arose at the International Courthouse of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands as Australia argued that Japan's whaling is not based on scientific research as claimed and should be declared "illegal." This argument was held in front of the United Nations in hopes that their persuasive speech and evidence will inspire the UN to declare a permanent ban on whaling in the Antarctic waters by the year's end.
For centuries, whales were the target of commercial production, and in 1986, the U.S. Congress stepped up and banned whaling through an anti-commercial whaling law. However, a loophole was discovered under the International Whaling Commission: a settlement allowing Japan to capture 935 minke and 50 fin whales for scientific research to investigate various biological patterns of "age composition, sexual maturity and pregnancy rates" in whales, according to Japan's deputy foreign minister of foreign affairs.
"We have a scientific research programme in accordance with the convention on whaling and we are strictly abiding by the treaty obligations," government spokesman Noriyuki Shikata told the BBC.
However, Australian Attorney General Mark Dreyfus disagrees. "We want commercial whaling to stop and that includes the so-called scientific whaling program that Japan has been carrying on for many years," he said.
Dreyfus noted that the case has nothing to do with cultural differences or sea shipping, but is solely based on science. He commented on how Japan's whaling manual does not follow the strategic rules of scientific research (for example, there is no "proper hypothesis") and Japanese whalers using lethal means to conduct their research. Dreyfus noted that his country and others are also conducting research on whales, but are using nonlethal means to do so.
"We had Australian scientists complete a world first which was putting a satellite tracking device on a blue whale and that will enable the study of that whale in a way that doesn't harm it," reported Mark Dreyfus during an ABC News interview.
Dreyfus reveals that Japan has exterminated more than 10,000 whales since 1988, making some critics believe that instead of preserving whales, they are heading them towards extinction.
Although Japan is currently receiving heat, they are not the only nation that hunts whales. Norway and Iceland also contribute to whaling.
The court is said to announce a ruling by the year's end.