Europe

Norway keeps minke whale quota unchanged

Norway's fisheries minister says his country will keep its minke whale hunting quota in 2019 at 1278 catches.

Norway is to keep its minke whaling quota unchanged in 2019 at 1278 catches, the government says.

"Norway has a viable whaling industry and I want to make sure that whaling remains alive," Harald T Nesvik, minister of fisheries, said on Monday.

"Whale meat tastes good and has health benefits. Unfortunately, there are many myths associated with whale meat. We need more knowledge so that more people get their eyes on this amazing product," he added.

The ministry said the quota was set in relation to estimates of the total minke whale population conducted by the scientific committee of the International Whaling Commission (IWC). According to the ministry, there are more than 100,000 minke whales in Norwegian waters.

Last year, 454 minke whales were caught off Norway, a slight increase compared to 2017 but still well below the maximum quota.

In 2018, 11 whaling vessels operated in Norway, compared to 20 in 2015 when 660 minke whales were caught.

Conservationists have criticised the fact that Oslo has since 1993 allowed the commercial hunting of minke whales, the smallest of the great whales. They are up to 11 metres long and weigh around 8 tonnes.

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