Whales are no more deserving of special protection than pigs, cows, or chickens. They are animals like any other. In fact, whales live much better lives than farmed livestock. They live their whole life outdoors in the ocean, instead of crammed into a box in the dark. Provided the catch is regulated and the dispatch is humane, which exploding harpoons are, there is no difference between whale and beef. Well actually there is one. Paul Watson doesn't put on "Cattle Wars."
Maybe if the species is not in any immediate danger and the people who will be doing the whaling are being very careful as to not over whale than one might suppose that it might not hurt to at least get some sort of legal whale market going to some degree.
I don't see why it should be illegal if the whales are not extinct. I am 100% in favor as long as they apply strict guidelines and can ensure the future safety of the animal. Just be sure to let there be a relatively big buffer zone from the extinct side.