Iceland has resumed whaling after a 14-year moratorium, despite fierce international criticism.
One of Iceland's three whaling vessels left Reykjavik harbor early Sunday, and at least one other was expected to join the hunt for minke whales later in the day.
On Friday, the government authorized the three boats to catch 38 minke whales by September 30, under what it says is a "research plan" to determine how much fish the mammals eat. Icelandic officials say they must control whales to protect fish stocks and protect the livelihood of the country's fishermen.
The resumption of whaling in Iceland comes amid strong international protests and a campaign by the environmental activist group Greenpeace. Nations opposed to whaling, including the United States, say there is no scientific basis for the Icelandic research.
Some 43,000 minke whales are believed to live in Iceland's waters, eating two million tons of fish and krill every year.
Iceland ceased whaling in 1989 under international pressure.