Iceland is set to spark controversy after it resumed its commercial whale hunt.
On Monday, the Icelandic media reported that two fishing vessels left Icelandic shores en route to catch the country’s seasonal quota of 154 whales.
An international website that monitors the movements of ships showed two Icelandic whaling vessels sailing west of Iceland en route to known whaling areas, while local media confirmed the two ships, Hvalur 8 and Hvalur 9, set sail on Sunday.
Hvalur, the only company to hunt the fin whales, killed 148 in 2010, but none in the following two years because of the disintegration of the market in Japan, the only country it sells to, following the earthquake and tsunami in the East Asian nation. On Monday, a national holiday, the company was unavailable for comment.
Hvalur said in May that the quota this year was 154 whales, but stated that there was the possibility of adding 20 percent on to that number because of the whales that were not hunted last year.
Iceland also hunts the smaller minke whales. The country began that hunt last month and, according to whaling officials, seven of the species have already been harpooned.
In 1986, the International Whaling Commission took action following a report showing that whales were declining at an alarming rate. The commission imposed moratorium on whaling and, at present, only Iceland and Norway openly defy the moratorium by practicing commercial whaling.
Japan also continues to hunt whales, but claims it is purely for scientific reasons despite most of the meat being later sold to consumers.