Icelandic whaling firm Hvalur has launched its
fin whale hunt, its chief executive confirmed Monday.
Kristjan Loftsson told broadcaster RUV that two whaling vessels sailed in the North Atlantic late Sunday.
There is a quota of 184 fin whales this season.
Loftsson said the meat would be sold to Japan. In 2011 and 2012, the fin whaling season was suspended mainly due to poor demand in the aftermath of devastating natural disasters in Japan.
Loftsson said he was confident there was sufficient demand this year. "There are 130 million people in Japan, I'm not worried," he said.
Conservation group Pro Wildlife has urged the newly-elected Icelandic government to end the hunt immediately.
"Fin whales are endangered - yet their meat is sold off in Japan or even thrown away," Pro Wildlife biologist Sandra Altherr said.
Despite international protests, Iceland continues to allow whaling, and has circumvented a 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling.
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