OSLO, March 6 (Xinhua) -- Norway has decided to increase its whaling quota for 2018 to 1,278 common minke whales, news agency NTB reported Tuesday.
"I hope quota ratios and the merging of fishing areas will provide a good starting point for a good fishing season for the whaling industry," Norwegian Minister of Fisheries Per Sandberg was quoted as saying in a statement.
Last year's quota of 999 common minke whales was the lowest for many years, while only 438 animals were caught, according to the fisheries ministry.
"Norway has a viable whaling industry, despite zero subsidies and the fact that Japan is the only market outside Norway. That is impressive. I want to make sure that the whaling remains alive. Whale meat tastes good and it is good for health," Sandberg said.
The decision was made according to the calculation models by the International Whaling Commission (IWC), which shall ensure sustainable capture, according to the ministry.
The hunting of the common minke whale has been active in Norway since the 1920s. Although the species is not considered to be threatened, international animal protectors have criticized Norwegian whaling.
The European Parliament said in September 2017 that Norway must halt its whale hunting and the European Union (EU) must ensure that no whale meat transits through its ports.
The European Parliament urged Norway to "cease all its commercial whaling operations" and to abide by the IWC moratorium on all commercial whaling, which was imposed in 1982 and came into effect in 1986.
"Norway has killed over 13,000 whales since the moratorium came into effect," the European Parliament said at that time.