The International Court of Justice has concluded, after a 12-4 vote, that Japan's whale hunt in the southern ocean near Antarctica wasn't for "scientific researc" (I don't think anyone really believes this, even in Japan, but it's the excuse they've been using to keep hunting whales). The court has ordered a temporary halt to Japan's annual hunt
This is a victory for whales, but also for Australia who has been pressing the court since 2010, trying to convince them that Japan's "scientific whaling" was just a cover for commercial whale hunting.
Presiding ICJ Judge Peter Tomka said that Japan's program failed to justify the large number of minke whales (850 annually!) it says it needs to catch under its current Antarctic program. It also didn't come close to catching the 50 fin and 50 humpback whales it aimed to take. "The court concludes that the special permits granted by Japan for the killing, taking, and treating of whales ... are not 'for purposes of scientific research'," Tomka said.
The court ordered Japan to stop issuing new permits, at least until the program has been significantly changed to meet the court's criteria. But I'm hoping that since this was never about scientific research anyway, that they won't be able to justify a hunt and will just eventually stop it altogether, though probably not without a fight.
At least Japan signed the moratorium on whaling in 1986 (even though they tried to get around it). Norway and Iceland have both rejected it and continue commercial whaling.