Iceland is defying an international ban and opened its commercial whale hunting season on Tuesday.
Fishing Ministry officials say they have given whalers permission to hunt a limit of 40 minke whales for meat over the next six months.
Many in Iceland defend whaling as a centuries-old tradition. They say whalers will be careful not to kill endangered species.
But some, including members of the Social Democratic Alliance, the junior partner in the ruling coalition government, say whaling damages Iceland's reputation abroad. They also say it drives away tourists who want to see the mammals in their natural surroundings.
Environmentalists decry whaling for commercial and scientific purposes. The International Whaling Commission banned commercial whale hunts in 1986 to preserve the dwindling population.
Iceland began defying the ban two years ago. Japan and Norway also want the ban lifted.
Some information for this report provided by AP.