MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
Whale lovers scored a major victory today. For almost two decades, Japanese whalers have been killing whales in the Antarctic Ocean. The Japanese government claimed it was all for scientific, not commercial, purposes. NPR's Elizabeth Shogren reports that today, an international court rejected that claim and said the whaling must stop.
ELIZABETH SHOGREN, BYLINE: Eighteen years ago, the International Whaling Commission banned commercial whaling. Since then, Japan has allowed its whalers to harvest hundreds of whales a year for what it calls scientific research. Year after year, whale advocates in many countries called Japan's claims absurd.
PATRICK RAMAGE: Come on. Look, this is not for purposes of research. This is commercial whaling in disguise.
SHOGREN: Patrick Ramage from the International Fund for Animal Welfare was one who made this argument to no avail. Today, Ramage was at the International Court of Justice in The Hague to hear the ruling from the court.
RAMAGE: The conclusion of which is, hey, we agree with you, this isn't research, and it has to stop. We had tears in our eyes. We're walking on air.
SHOGREN: The court says it wasn't scientific research because, among other reasons, they didn't publish in any scientific journals or collaborate with other scientists. The court ordered Japan to revoke whaling permits and to stop issuing new ones. Japan says it's disappointed but will abide by the ruling out of respect for international legal order.
The case was brought by Australia and the ruling applies to the southern or Antarctic Ocean. That's where Japan has killed the most whales since the ban, about 10,000. The ruling also could affect whaling done elsewhere under the guise of science. Japanese whalers also kill whales off their own coast and in the North Pacific. Even if the ruling were to extend to all of Japan's whaling, there are still other countries that kill whales commercially without claiming it's for science - Norway and Iceland. Elizabeth Shogren, NPR News.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.