(Bloomberg) -- Iceland granted a whaling license to the only company in the island nation still carrying out the practice.

Hvalur hf will be permitted to continue whaling until the end of the season this year, Iceland’s Fisheries Minister Bjarkey Olsen Gunnarsdottir, said in a statement on Tuesday.

Iceland is one of just three countries in the world, along with Norway and Japan, to have allowed commercial whaling in recent years. It suspended the practice for most of the hunting season last summer on grounds of animal welfare after Svandis Svavarsdottir, then minister for fisheries, determined that the killing of the animals took longer than allowed by the law. 

She was later rebuked by the country’s ombudsman, who said the decision was disproportionate and lacked legal footing. She, in turn, called the law “obsolete.”

The matter continues to cause political tension within Iceland’s ruling coalition. The Left Green Party of Gunnarsdottir opposes whaling, in contrast with the right-wing Independence Party and centrist Progressive Party where there’s more support.

A working group set by the ministry to review the law and the regulatory framework around whaling is scheduled to submit its findings before the end of the year.

Iceland’s catches have mostly consisted of fin whales, the world’s second-largest mammal, which can measure up to 27 meters (88 feet) and weigh as much as 80 metric tons. The species is classified as “vulnerable” to extinction globally by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. 

The license allows the killing of 128 fin whales this year which is within the guidance frame of The Icelandic Marine Research Institute that advised that at most 161 fin whales should be hunted this year, in line with previous years, and that no more than 217 mink whales should be killed. Last year 24 fin whales were caught and no mink whale. 

A report commissioned by the Ministry of Food and Fisheries found that whaling had negligible effect on Iceland’s economy, accounting for less than 1% of marine exports in 2022.

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