Outrage as Iceland starts whaling again

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The Independent Online

Icelandic whalers were preparing their harpoons yesterday for a hunt to kill 38 minke whales that has drawn international condemnation.

Icelandic whalers were preparing their harpoons yesterday for a hunt to kill 38 minke whales that has drawn international condemnation.

As it prepared to resume whaling after a 14-year break, the government claimed it was part of a scientific programme and it needed to control whales to protect fish stocks.

Environmental campaigners attacked the decision and converged on Trafalgar Square in London yesterday to protest against the six-week operation. Tony Banks, Labour MP for West Ham, said: "This is commercial whaling - they are perverting the name of science to slaughter animals. Much of the meat will probably end up on plates in Tokyo restaurants. Their argument is absurd."

Stella Green, of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said: "These whales will suffer a cruel and senseless death. The Icelandic government is using the guise of scientific research to exploit a legal loophole."

Greenpeace has sent its ship Rainbow Warrior II to Iceland to demonstrate against the hunt. Last week the British government expressed "deep regret" at the hunt, which it called "wholly unjustified".

Gisli Vikingsson, of the Marine Research Institute in Reykjavik, said three whaling ships would sail from secret locations to avoid protesters.

Seven of the 13 great whale species are endangered. The International Whaling Commission outlawed commercial whaling in 1986. Iceland had ceased whaling in 1989 under international pressure.

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