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Last Updated: Monday, 23 October 2006, 05:27 GMT 06:27 UK
Iceland violates ban on whaling
Workers cut up the fin whale
Iceland says fin whales are plentiful in its coastal waters
Iceland has broken a 21-year-old international moratorium on commercial whaling by killing a fin whale - an endangered species.

The whale was caught by the Hvalur 9 whaling vessel about 200 miles (320 km) west of Iceland.

TV footage showed the creature, which measured 20m (65ft) in length, being brought ashore at a landing station.

The move follows the country's announcement last week that it planned to resume commercial hunting of whales.

Norway is the only other nation that allows commercial whaling. Japan says it hunts for scientific research.

The International Whaling Commission banned commercial whaling under a moratorium imposed in 1985.

Iceland is a member of the IWC, having rejoined in 2002 after a 10-year absence.

Tourism blow

But in a statement on 17 October, Iceland's fisheries ministry announced its new plans.

Whale schematic (BBC)

Whaling vessels would take nine fin whales and 30 minke whales each year, the ministry said, adding that catches would remain within sustainable limits.

Fin whales are listed as an endangered species by the World Conservation Union, but Iceland maintains numbers are high enough in its coastal waters to permit hunting.

The announcement has angered conservation groups and anti-whaling nations, with some talking of a legal challenge.

It has also had an effect on the country's tourism industry, with cancellations reported by whale-watching companies.

"We have received several e-mails from people saying they have decided not to visit Iceland as long as Iceland is conducting whaling," Thorunn Harvardottir, who runs a whale-watching company, told AFP news agency.

The European Commission has urged Iceland to reconsider its decision.




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Icelandic whalers catch a fin whale



SEE ALSO
Iceland to begin whalemeat trade
06 Sep 06 |  Science/Nature
Norway's whale catch falls short
13 Jul 06 |  Science/Nature

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