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New Zealand and Australia v. Japan (Southern Bluefin Tuna Cases)

International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea
1999 I.T.L.D.S Reports 280


Australia and New Zealand (plaintiffs) brought suit in the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea against Japan (defendant), claiming that Japan’s experimental fishing program for southern bluefin tuna (SBT) violated the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), as well as the precautionary principle, which generally states that a nation is obligated to employ preventative measures if the activities undertaken by the nation have the potential to harm the environment. Australia and New Zealand requested provisional measures to block Japan’s fishing program, arguing that scientific proof established that the volume of SBT being caught in relation to the fishing program could further deplete an already seriously threatened stock of the fish. Japan contended that, to the contrary, available scientific research proved that the program would not endanger the SBT population and that the program was actually necessary to learn more about the SBT stock’s resiliency.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning

Concurrence/Dissent (Laing, J.)

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