SYDNEY, May 28 (UPI) -- An Australian federal court has cleared the way for Japanese whalers to hunt whales -- even endangered humpback whales -- in Australian waters.
The Humane Society International had filed a lawsuit last year to prosecute Japanese whaling company Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha for whaling in Australian waters near Antarctica, the Daily Telegraph reported.
The company kills some 440 minke whales inside Australia's Antarctic Territory annually and Japan wants to broaden its whale kill to include humpback whales.
HSI director Michael Kennedy said he was "bitterly disappointed," but the group has been granted the ability to appeal the court decision.
"Our Government is going to have to ... stop Japan from doing what it intends to do," Kennedy said.
However, Justice James Allsop agreed with Australian Attorney General Philip Ruddock that said the case would contravene international law because Japan did not recognize Australia's sovereign claims of the Australian Antarctic Territory.
Ruddock warned of diplomatic repercussions if the case had been allowed to be heard and said the federal government would prefer a diplomatic solution.