The Icelandic government has greenlit plans to hunt and kill more than whales by 2023 - despite the international ban on whaling.
In a move that has angered advocacy groups, Iceland's Fisheries Minister Kristjan Thor Juliusson has authorized the slaughter of 209 fin whales and 217 minke whales in Icelandic waters every year for the next five years, citing the economic benefits of doing so.
Although the global market for whale meat is declining, and support for the hunting is falling out of public favor, Juliusson is pressing ahead, claiming these numbers are based on recent scientific research and are 'sustainable'.
Official figures show that populations of the fin whale - which was once endangered - are now recovering.
"During the most recent count in 2015, their population in the central North Atlantic was estimated at 37,000, or triple the number from 1987," the Icelandic government said in a statement.
But animal advocates have blasted the news, with Vanessa Williams-Grey, a campaigner for the Whale and Dolphin Conservation, saying: "The Icelandic government's decision to continue to kill whales – amongst the most peaceful and intelligent beings on the planet – is morally repugnant as well as economically bankrupt."