Antarctic Current Affairs - 2020

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‘Mt Sinha’: US names a peak in Antarctica after Indian scientist Akhouri Sinha

Akhouri SinhaIn the honor of Akhouri Sinha, a distinguished Indian-American scientist whose ground-breaking biological research expedition has provided vital data about animal populations, the United States has named a mountain in Antarctica after him as Mt Sinha.

An adjunct professor in the Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development at the University of Minnesota, Sinha was recognized by the US Geological Survey, which named the mountain Mt Sinha, for his critical contribution as an explorer in 1971-72. Sinha was a member of a team that catalogued population research of seals, whales and birds in the ice-packed Bellingshausen and Amundsen Seas and in Glaciers in 1972 and 1974.

Mt Sinha, a mountain (990 m) at the southeast end of Erickson Bluffs in the southern part of McDonald Heights, overlooks lower Kirkpatrick Glacier from the north in Marie Byrd Land.

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Japan kills 30 minke whales despite ICJ order

As per a report by Japanese Fisheries Agency, Japan has continued the hunting of whales and has killed 30 minke whales off Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefacture (at its north-east coast), in the first hunt since the International Court of Justice (ICJ) March 2014 order which directed Tokyo to halt killing the whales in the Antarctic.

In March 2014, the ICJ ruled that Japan’s annual expedition to the Southern Ocean was a commercial activity disguised as research.

ICJ ordered ban on Japan’s JARPA II (started in 2005) whaling programme in Sothern Ocean in the Antarctic. The UN’s apex court imposed a temporary halt on Japan’s whaling programmme in Antarctic waters after hearing a case brought against Japan by Australia and environmental groups. The 16-member panel of ICJ decided that the whaling exercise of Japan is not justified. The court directed Tokyo to choose any one courses of action in this regard- either stop hunting the whales or redesign its hunting programme for scientific purposes. Japan agreed to the order of the ICJ.

Japan has exploited an ambiguity in a 1986 global moratorium that allows lethal research on the mammals. Japan sometimes also paints the demands for an end to whaling as cultural imperialism in the country.

Insufficiency in the ICJ order

Though the ICJ judgment directs Japan to stop whaling in Antarctic under JARPA II but it doesn’t make any mention on its annual hunts in the Pacific Ocean. As a result, Japan is free to continue hunting of whales in the Pacific.

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