The Federal Environment Minister says an extra $6 million for whale research sends a clear message about Australia's commitment to non-lethal research.

Mark Butler has announced the backing for the research program a week after Australia's legal challenge to Japan's whaling program wrapped up in The Hague.

The new funding will be provided over two years under the International Whales and Marine Mammal Conservation Initiative.

The Minister, Mark Butler, says it will support new research, including an Antarctic blue whale research program which has a voyage leaving early next year.

Mr Butler says the funding sends a clear message to the world about Australia's determination to ensure whale research is conducted through non-lethal means.

"It really does build on our position as a leader in non-lethal research into whales, particularly the blue whale research we've been doing out of Tasmania this year," he said.

"Tasmania really does lead the world in whale research particularly for years and years, decades really.

"People out there who take an interest in whales know that research generally has been lethal research that results in the death of whales, or at least very very invasive research.

"Tasmania is a world leader in non-lethal research."

Last week, Japan indicated it may leave the International Whaling Commission if it loses the case in the International Court of Justice.

Australia maintains Japan's program is commercial rather than scientific.

Australia hopes the verdict by the court's 16 judges will be handed down before the next whaling season.