In a public relations coup for the New Australiann Government, Japan has agreed to drop the 50 Humpbacks from their planned 'Research' whaling for 2007-2008. They still plan to kill 950 minke whales and 50 fin whales, though.
In the last week, the Labor Government laid out a series of plans to shadow the Japanese fleet with RAAF recon aircraft and customs vessels to document the slaughter and then use it in evidence in a international court action.
In less then one month, Kevin Rudd has done more to attack the Japan Whaling program then John Howard did in 11 years, by challenging Japan's actions under Appendix A of CITES (The Convention on Internation Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna).
Ex-Prime Minister John Howard's government had access to the same legal advice, and Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull's opinion chose not to do anything with this excuse back in November :
"We believe that it can only be solved through strong and sustained international effort," he said. "We have examined options for international legal action but have judged it to date as likely to be counter-productive to our cause."
Obviously he was completely wrong, as Japan backed down under just the threat of legal action.
Later tonight a formal protest will be lodged in Tokyo by the Australian Ambassador Murray McLean over the Minke and Fin hunt plans, with rumors that the this will cause damage to the upcoming Australia - Japan free trade talks. Meanwhile the Australian reconnaissance and documentation project will continue with the Oceanic Viking to leave Fremantle in the next few days to begin shadowing the fleet and collecting further evidence.