Japan is ignoring an international ruling and resuming whaling in Antarctic waters.

Australia’s environment minister Greg Hunt says Japan should not undertake the ‘so-called scientific whaling’ in the Southern Ocean, and that the Government is considering its legal options.

The International Court of Justice last year ruled Japan’s whaling program was not scientific, after a case brought by the Australian Government.

The ICJ revoked Japan’s scientific permits for the cull, but the Japanese government now says the court’s jurisdiction will not apply to any “research on, or conservation, management or exploitation of, living resources of the sea”.

Their latest plan seeks to kill 333 minke whales each year between 2015 and 2027, which is about a third of its previous target.

Japan appears to be unilaterally resuming Antarctic whaling this year, less than a year after suspending the practice.

Environment minister Greg Hunt says the government will talk to Japanese counterparts about their bypassing of the ICJ judgment.

“Australia has successfully brought action in the International Court of Justice to stop Japan’s whaling program,” Hunt said.

“Japan has previously said it would abide by the ruling. We are taking legal advice on the implications of Japan’s actions.

“We are disappointed by Japan’s decision and we hope that Japan does not undertake so-called ‘scientific’ whaling this [southern] summer in the Southern Ocean.”

While Japan continues to claim its whale culling has a scientific basis, insiders suggest it is more to do with the whale-meat industry links of long-serving politicians, and cultural practices

Australian Marine Conservation Society director Darren Kindleysides says Japan’s snub of the ICJ is a “wake-up call”.

“Countries should not be allowed to pick and choose which bits of international law they are bound by,” he told reporters.

“This is a deeply cynical move showing utter contempt for the rule of international law.

“Japan’s Antarctic whaling has failed the test of international law, and the test of science, yet the hunt could resume within weeks.

“The Australian government must once again stand up to Japan.”