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Norway Plans Massive 10-Ton Whale Meat Shipment Amid Fierce Backlash

<p><a class="checked-link" href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/38007185@N00/8466311111">ravas51/Flickr</a></p>

Norway is planning to make a massive shipment of minke whale meat to Iceland nearly 1,000 miles away, according to new documents obtained by conservationists. The 20,000-pound (10 tons) shipment, proposed by the Norwegian whaling company Lofothval, comes just weeks after the International Whaling Commission's 65th meeting in Slovenia, where the U.S. criticized the practice.

The proposal violates an agreement Norway has had with the U.S. for years - Norway won't trade whale meat internationally and in return the U.S. does not impose sanctions.

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Norway - one of the only countries that continues to whale after a global moratorium was imposed in 1986 - has come under fire lately for its catch. Last year, the country hunted 731 minke whales - the largest catch since it resumed whaling in 1993.

The Animal Welfare Institute and NOAH, a Norway-based animal rights organization, obtained the documents through the Norwegian Freedom of Information Act. Now, they're calling on other governments to intervene before the shipment is transported.

While animal advocates target supply, demand for whale meat is actually waning in Norway. According to Siri Martinsen, director of NOAH, 42 percent of Norwegians oppose whaling if some whales suffer at the time of death.

In Iceland, where only 3 percent of the population eats minke whale regularly, whalers are feeling the heat. The U.S. recently imposed diplomatic sanctions against Iceland for its whaling trade (though economic sanctions weren't employed). Anti-whaling campaigners say that Norway should be held to the same standard.

"Norway has systematically increased its cruel slaughter of whales in recent years," said Susan Millward, AWI executive director. "The United States recently imposed diplomatic measures against Iceland for its whaling and trade in whale products, and we believe that these same penalties should be imposed on Norway. We call on the United States and other governments to act decisively to bring international trade in whale products to an immediate halt."