Federal Court finds Japanese whaler guilty of contempt and imposes $1 million fine
In the Federal Court in Sydney today Justice Jagot spent very little time deliberating before finding against Japanese whaling company Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha (Kyodo), determining that they were in contempt of the Australian courts.
Humane Society International (HSI) initiated these legal proceedings after successfully being granted an injunction by the Federal Court on appeal in 2008 which required Kyodo to cease whaling in the Australian Whale Sanctuary. The Federal Court found in 2008 that Kyodo had killed whales in the Australian Whale Sanctuary and that these activities were in breach of Australia's chief environmental protection legislation, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
Presiding Judge Justice Jagot accepted all evidence HSI presented and agreed that Kyodo had killed minke whales in the Australian Whale Sanctuary. She found that Kyodo's conduct in breach of the injunction was "deliberate, systematic and sustained”, and that she was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Kyodo had killed tens, if not hundreds of whales over four separate annual whaling campaigns in breach of the EPBC Act and the 2008 Federal Court injunction.
In penalising Kyodo, Justice Jagot said $1 million reflected the "serious nature of the breaches”, and that the amount of the fine was intended to "denounce Kyodo's conduct” as well as to act as a deterrent to other whaling vessels.
HSI Director Michael Kennedy said, "HSI is thrilled with both the findings of Federal Court Judge Jagot and the speed with which she came to her decision, in no small part because of the bullet-proof case prepared and presented by EDO NSW (Environmental Defenders Office) and legal counsel, Jeremy Kirk SC and James Hutton. Justice Jagot complemented the legal team for its thorough case development. We are also very pleased with the $1 million fine.”
Mr. Kennedy continued, "Armed with the results of this successful case in defence of whales in the Antarctic, with Kyodo the clear guilty party, we now urge the Australian Government to redouble its diplomatic efforts with the Japanese Government to ensure Japan knows the international community condemns any resumption of whaling in the Southern Oceans.”
If the Japanese Government sanctions whaling in Antarctic waters by Kyodo again this year, as we fear it will, and Kyodo continues to ignore the 2008 injunction and the decision of the Federal Court today, it is critical that Australian Government raises this issue with the Japanese Government in the most forceful way possible. We would also expect the Australian Government to assess what further legal options are open to it under international law,” Mr. Kennedy concluded.
To read more about HSI's legal battle for whales, click here.