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Iceland harpooned for whaling practices

Demonstrators hold signs at a rally calling on President Barack Obama not to overturn a band on commercial whaling, in Washington on April 22, 2010. This event was part of the Earth Day Networks' celebration of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. UPI/Kevin Dietsch
Demonstrators hold signs at a rally calling on President Barack Obama not to overturn a band on commercial whaling, in Washington on April 22, 2010. This event was part of the Earth Day Networks' celebration of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo

YARMOUTH PORT, Mass., March 10 (UPI) -- The Icelandic government is "harpooning its own economic interests" through the commercial harvesting of whales, an advocacy group said from Massachusetts.

The Icelandic government hasn't disclosed estimated catch limits for 2011. Icelandic fisheries harvested several species of threatened whales last year despite a limited domestic market.

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A multinational decree signed by Australia, Brazil, New Zealand and the United States expressed "strong opposition" to Iceland's commercial whaling activity.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare expressed outrage over Iceland's decision to uphold the practice.

"Beyond killing hundreds of endangered whales its own people refuse to eat, the government of Iceland is harpooning its own economic interests," said Patrick Ramage, director of IFAW's whale program, in a statement.

Iceland harvested 125 fin whales in 2009 and 148 in 2010. Around 1 percent of the Icelandic population eats whale meat on a regular basis.

IFAW said Iceland harvests whale market for the Japanese market.

Environmental advocacy group Greenpeace found most of the responders to a January survey wanted tighter control over the whaling industry.

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