AMSTERDAM – A showdown looms this week over the 25-year ban on commercial whaling.

Should it remain, leaving Japan, Norway and Iceland — countries that claim exemptions to the ban — to hunt down as many whales as they want?

Or should it be eased to get those countries on board, a compromise that might mean fewer whales are killed? Currently, wildcat whaling kills up to 2,000 animals a year

The International Whaling Commission begins a five-day meeting today in Morocco’s Atlantic Ocean resort of Agadir — arguably its most important gathering since 1986, when a moratorium halted the factory-style slaughter of tens of thousands of whales a year.