On Monday, the International Court of Justice ordered Japan to cease whale hunting in the ocean near Antarctica.
At a trial before the United Nation’s court last year, Japan contended that its whaling was conducted as part of scientific research. Whaling for research is permitted under a 1986 ban on whale-hunting by the International Whaling Commission. Since the ban went into effect 14,410 whales have been harvested for “scientific” reasons. Japanese whalers have account for 95% of whales reportedly killed for scientific research. In a 12-4 decision, the U.N. court found that Japan had not presented evidence to support its claims, the Los Angeles Times notes.
The court case resulted from a 2010 complaint filed by Australia. Japan said it was disappointed with the ruling, but indicated that it would obey the court’s order.
Environmentalists hailed the decision, though they noted that harvesting whales for scientific research remained legal and that the order didn’t affect Japanese whaling in other areas.
Japan isn’t the only country that has allegedly violated the ban on non-research whaling. Iceland and Norway also conduct whaling operations, though both are facing pressure from wildlife advocates to cease the practices.