Whales in Antarctica’s Southern Ocean can swim in peace for now, thanks to the International Court of Justice—the United Nations’ judicial body—which has suspended Japan’s Antarctic whaling program!

humpback whales

Humpback Whales | Photo by: National Marine Sanctuaries | CC by 2.0 

Wait, whaaat? “People are still killing whales?!” you say? “Wasn’t that banned, like, before we were even born?” you say? Well, you’re half-right. Commercial whaling WAS banned in 1986 and is socially condemned by all major countries.

But if the kick-ass heroes of TV’s Whale Wars have taught us nothing else, it’s that despite the compassion and conservation efforts of almost every government on the planet, there are still some countries (ahem, Norway, Iceland, ahem) that are killing these beautiful, gentle giants.

For years, Japan has thinly disguised its commercial whaling efforts by labeling the slaughter as “scientific research.” But no more! In the ruling, U.N. Presiding Judge Peter Tomka had this to say:

In light of the fact the [research program] has been going on since 2005 and has involved the killing of about 3,600 minke whales, the scientific output to date appears limited.

Hunting and killing thousands of whales in the name of “science” sounds pretty f*cked up to us (kinda like dissection, amiright?). Luckily, the U.N. has put an end to it. But the fight isn’t over yet! While Japan must suspend the carnage in the Southern Ocean, the court’s ruling does not stop Japan’s second, smaller killing program in the northern Pacific.

japanese whaling boat sea shepherd wreck antarctica

Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals 

A lot of the work to stop this cruel industry has been done by previous generations, but we still have a ways to go. Let’s keep fighting for minke whales and other animals!

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