Norway has kept its whale quota at 1,286 whales for 2014, despite the catch in previous years being well below that number.
Norway refused to comply with a commercial whaling moratorium in 1986 and does not view itself as subject to it. The Nordic country and Iceland are now the only nations in the world to fish whales for commercial reasons. Both countries claim the whale species they fish have a large enough population to not be classed as endangered.
Fisheries Minister Elisabeth Aspakaer explained that the quota has been left unchanged because it guarantees a “good framework and continuity” for the whaling sector.
The announcement came just a day after a revelation in the whaling industry as the International Court of Justice ruled that Japan must end its yearly Antarctic fin whale hunt. The fin whale, which Japan has always insisted it hunted for research purposes, is larger than the minke whale that Norway catches.
The United Nations court in The Hague ruled that Japan disguises its fin whale hunt as research, but said the majority of the catch was sold in supermarkets.
In recent years, Norwegian hunters have not come close to catching their quota, with just 594 whales harpooned last year, according to data.
Animal rights activists claim the allocated catch is not being met as consumers have little interest in eating whale meat. Head of Greenpeace Norway, Trul Gulowsen, said each year the quotas are not met so this quota is once more “unnecessarily high”, but he noted that it wasn’t a big problem as the whaling industry is dying. He added that people no longer want to eat whale meat and prefer pizza instead.
Whalers say they fail to reach the quota because of distant hunting areas, high fuel prices and the lack of capacity at processing plants.