Australia and New Zealand announced Thursday that they will carry out a six-week long non-lethal whale research expedition in the Antarctic early next year. Dubbing the expedition non-lethal is a direct challenge to Japan’s research program that kills up to 1,000 whales a year.

humpback whale Hey Japan, whales can be studied while still alive, says Australia and New Zealand

Iceland and Norway are the only two countries openly defying the IWC ban on commercial whaling; Japan is instead using a lope whole that allows for “lethal research”. Whale meat resulting from the Japanese research is sold for human consumption and many critics claim that this is the real motive behind the program.

In a joint statement, Australia and New Zealand announced their intentions to reform science management within the International Whaling Commission, which holds its annual meeting in Madeira, Portugal, next week, and end Japan’s “so-called scientific whaling.”

This expedition and the ongoing research program will demonstrate to the world that we do not need to kill whales to study and understand them,” said Australian Environment Minister Peter Garrett.

The expedition aims to increase our knowledge of population structures, abundance, trends, distribution, and the ecological role of whales in the Southern Ocean.

During the latest Japanese hunt, which ended in April, 679 minke whales and one fin whale was killed over a period of five months.