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Whaling Expert to Consider Court Case
By Wendy Heller, January 6, 2008 @ 02:00 AM (EST)
Source: Smh.com.au

The Rudd Government is also seeking the views of its own lawyers, but it is expected that Professor Crawford would argue Australia's case if, as now seems likely, legal action proceeds.

Professor Crawford represented Australia in 1999 in a joint action with New Zealand against Japan over its huge so-called experimental catch of southern bluefin tuna in a case with parallels to the "scientific" whaling program Canberra brands a sham.

Taking the dispute before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea was a bold move, and Australia and New Zealand won the first round, but it was reversed on a jurisdictional technicality.

Professor Crawford is understood to have been asked to consider prospects for success if the dispute over whaling was taken to that tribunal as well as initiating action before the International Court of Justice.

Failure could strengthen Japan's push to re-open the 1986 ban on commercial whaling that it continues to circumvent through the scientific whaling loophole.

The Law of the Sea Convention, which came into force in 1994, requires parties to it to sustainably manage migratory fish species and refers to provisions of the 1946 Whaling Convention.

Tim Stephens, of the University of Sydney's law faculty, was on a panel of experts that made a submission last March to the Howard government on anti-whaling legal options.

"The bluefin tuna case shows Australia could make a successful argument before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea on whales," Dr Stephens told the Herald yesterday. "And Professor Crawford would be the best man in the world to do that.

"He has appeared before the ICJ as well as the Tribunal for the Law of the Sea many, many times representing various governments from around the world."

One option is to take Japan before the International Court of Justice based on an argument that its intended slaughter of more than 900 whales this summer contravenes the Whaling Convention.

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