A total of 575 minke whales have been killed in Norway during this year's whaling season, according to the latest catch report from Norwegian fisheries organization Rafisklaget.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Fisheries in Oslo confirmed the figure on Monday, the last official day of the whaling season, which means the number could still rise slightly.
It is the highest figure of killed whales since 2016. As in previous years, the Ministry of Fisheries had set a maximum quota of 1,278.
However, the number of killed animals usually remains far below the limit. Last year, 503 whales were killed during the fishing season.
This means that the Scandinavian country remains the number one whaling country in the world, "well ahead of Japan or Iceland," the German Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) organization said on Monday.
The commercial hunt for whales was "absolutely inexcusable" also in light of their important role for the ocean's ecosystem, WDC expert Astrid Fuchs said.
Hunting minke whales is an old tradition in Norway, but only a few fishers still practise it. In 2020, 13 vessels were involved in the hunt.
Ahead of the beginning of the whaling season in April, the Ministry for Fisheries had argued that the practice was about exploiting Norway's natural resources in a sustainable manner.
Since demand for the meat and fat of the mammals is low in the country, the largest share is exported to Japan, which also resumed whaling in 2019. The third biggest whale hunting nation is Iceland.