Pic: AP.

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The International Court of Justice is ruling Monday on Australia’s challenge against Japan for whaling in Antarctic waters.

Japan hunts several thousand minke whales annually as part of what it calls a scientific program. Australia and environmental groups say the hunt serves no scientific purpose and is a way of getting around the moratorium on whaling imposed by the International Whaling Commission in 1986.

Although the popularity of whale meat is declining in Japan, meat from the hunt is sold commercially.

Japan says it will abide by the ruling of the court, known as the “world court,” which is the United Nation’s court for disputes between countries.

The international treaty governing whaling is voluntary, and Iceland and Norway ignore it.