Iceland's whale hunt set to start
Whalers had been seeking a quota of about 100, but ministers settled on 40, which they say is commercially viable.
The decision came after weeks of delay, reportedly because of disagreements within government.
Environmental groups said the decision would further damage the Icelandic economy which is already badly affected by the international debt crisis.
The decision was expected a month ago, and whalers had been asking for a swift decision so they could begin hunting.
Finally, the govenment gave the go-ahead on Monday morning, and whalers said they would launch as soon as possible.
"It all depends on the weather, but if the weather is good then we hunt tomorrow (Tuesday) morning," said Gunnar Bergmann Jonsson, head of the minke whaling association.