Seven countries have agreed to impose entry restrictions on Japanese whalers in an effort to deter them from continuing their annual hunt of wild Antarctic whales, according to a Japanese diplomat, despite a U.N. ruling allowing their operations to continue.

Japan’s whaling ambassador, Akira Yamatsuka, told Japan’s Kyodo News that the countries believed the whales are part of the dolphin species and should not be killed.

Ric O’Barry, who starred in the 1970s Sea Hunt documentary “Whale Wars,” hailed the developments.

“It’s the first time in three years that the whaling campaign of Japanese whalers has come close to being killed,” he said. “And I think that they’re going to run out of whaling quota in 10 years to 20 years.”

Yamatsuka confirmed that Japan’s whaling fleet would be subject to visa restrictions in Fiji, New Zealand, Argentina, Venezuela, Mauritius, Panama and the United States, but other countries will not be compelled to impose the restrictions.

“We have revealed our efforts to close loopholes in the International Whaling Commission (IWC) regulations,” Yamatsuka said. “We have confirmed that measures will be imposed against people entering the island countries who bring wild Antarctic whale meat back into their countries.”

Photo: Ric O’Barry, better known for starring in the 1970s Sea Hunt documentary “Whale Wars,” was not pleased when he heard the news that it was likely the Antarctic whale hunt would continue. The image is courtesy Sea Shepherd