Human Interaction

Whale Wars Can Australia Police an IWC Sanctuary?

posted: 05/15/12

Animal Planet presents this feature as a conversation with legal scholars. We draw no conclusions, other than that reasonable legal minds differ on these issues.

DR. CHARLOTTE EPSTEIN: "So there are two kinds of whale sanctuaries. There's a sanctuary that a country can declare over its waters, alright. So a country like Mexico has a sanctuary. Australia has declared all its territorial waters to be a whale sanctuary. That's one thing. That's a country sanctuary. That's different from the whale sanctuaries that have been accepted by the IWC — [...] that's where specific whale sanctuaries have been declared in common by the countries coming together. And specifically, there's one in the Southern Oceans that was [...] established in 1994.

"So Australia has declared its waters to be whale sanctuaries, and they are actually enforcing it quite seriously. in these international waters, including in the international Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary — the sanctuary proclaimed by the IWC — Australia does not have enforcement powers. That's an important difference. It can do what it wants in its own waters, not in international waters."

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