Norway has lowered the quota of minke whales that can be killed by commercial whalers by nearly 16 percent, the Fisheries Ministry said Thursday.
The 2009 quota was set at 885 minke whales, down from 1,052 in this year's hunt.
The quotas haven't been filled in recent years, usually because of bad weather. Whalers need almost perfectly calm seas to spot and harpoon minke whales.
The ministry said the number was lowered because 2009 marks the start of a new five-year management period in which unused quotas from the previous year no longer can be carried over.
Norway angered environmentalists and many countries in 1993 by resuming the hunts in defiance of a 1986 commercial whaling ban imposed by the International Whaling Commission.
Norwegians eat the red meat of whales, but the blubber is now dumped because there is no domestic market for the fatty tissue.
The Greenpeace environment group said in a statement Thursday that the hunt is pointless and should be stopped.
"This summer, whalers where called home in the middle of the season due to low demand," the news release said. "The government's adherence to whaling is pure symbolic politics."
The government claims whaling, done from boats hunters also use for fishing, is important to the economies of some coastal communities.
Norway says the minke — the smallest of the baleen whales at about 9 meters (30 feet) — are plentiful, and that it sets quotas based on scientific estimates maintaining a sustainable Norwegian minke population, now estimated at 103,000 animals.
On the Net:
Source: AP News