Denmark has lost a bid to extend whaling by Greenland's indigenous people beyond this year, with EU nations sharing concerns that tourists are being served a glut of whale meat.
In a surprise at International Whaling Commission talks in Panama, all European Union nations except Denmark voted against their fellow member after saying talks had failed to reach a compromise to reduce the proposed hunt of the marine mammals.
Delegates voiced concern over reports that whale meat is widely sold in Greenland's supermarkets, saying it showed an industry in disguise and not an indigenous hunt for subsistence as allowed under the global whaling ban.
Denmark had proposed to let indigenous people in Greenland hunt up to 1326 whales between 2013 and 2018 - including 10 humpbacks a year - a slight increase from a previous deal set two years ago after protracted negotiations.
With Thursday's rejection, Greenland will not have the right to hunt whales after the end of the year. But representatives from Denmark and Greenland hinted that they were considering defying the commission.
Whaling critics accused Denmark of failing to negotiate in good faith. In one tense session in Panama, Samsing even insisted Greenland had the right - theoretically - to kill whales with baseball bats if it so decided.
Japan kills hundreds of whales each year using a loophole that allows lethal research on the ocean giants, with the meat then going for consumption.
South Korea has told the commission it will follow suit with scientific whaling, triggering outrage by Australia and New Zealand, which have campaigned for years against Japan's expeditions.
Chris Butler-Stroud, head of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, voiced hope the commission's vote on Greenland would give South Korea "pause for thought" about pursuing whaling.