Iceland has announced its decision to resume commercial whale hunting for the first time in nearly two decades despite an international moratorium on the practice.
Iceland's Fisheries Ministry, in a statement Tuesday, said it will allow whalers to harpoon 30 minke whales and nine fin whales in the year until August of 2007.
The statement said that the Icelandic economy is overwhelmingly dependent on the utilization of marine resources around the island.
A government official said permits could be issued as soon as Wednesday. He said the limited commercial whale hunting will be consistent with sustainable development.
Earlier this year, Japan won significant support from members of the International Whaling Commission for a resolution declaring the 20-year moratorium a temporary measure, which is no longer necessary. But a 75 percent vote is needed to overturn it.
Environmentalists argue that whale populations are endangered.
Norway already permits commercial hunts of the giant marine mammals. Japan permits whaling for what it calls scientific purposes.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.