March 13, 2008 / 10:00 PM / 12 years ago

Iceland likely to start whaling again, BBC reports

Whaling boat Njordur waits for weather with its harpoon gun covered early August 18, 2003, off the western coast of Iceland to take part in a controversial hunt. Icelandic whalers onboard the Njordur, caught their first minke whale in 14 years on Monday, a marine scientist with Iceland's Marine Research Institute said. Three boats commissioned by the institute to catch 38 minke whales for "scientific purposes" set off from three different harbours in Iceland over the weekend. REUTERS/Gleb Bryanski

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Iceland is likely to start whaling again this summer in a move certain to draw the ire of conservationists, the BBC said on its website on Thursday.

Iceland ended its ban on commercial whaling in 2006, but in August last year its fisheries ministry said it would not issue new quotas until market demand increased and an export agreement with Japan — where whale meat is popular — was in place.

The BBC said that a government official had confirmed that quotas would probably be issued again soon with whaling starting in May.

“We are not expecting any big quotas, but we are likely to see in the relatively near future some quotas for minke whales,” it quoted Stefan Asmundsson, a senior official in Iceland’s fisheries ministry, as saying.

“The most important factor is to ensure the quotas are within sustainable limits.”

Gunnar Bergmann Jonsson, the head of Iceland’s minke whaling association said he hoped for a quota for 100 of the whales, which grow up to 9 meters and weigh around 10 tonnes.

In 2006, Iceland said it would allow up to 30 minke whales and 9 fin whales to be hunted, ending a ban in place since 1986.

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