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IMAGE: Endangered fin whales slaughtered in Iceland

Blood flows from a wound caused by a harpoon in this picture taken on 27 June 2018 (the Sea Shepherd)

A series of horrific images that are captured by marine wildlife activists shows the commercial slaughter of endangered fin whales in Iceland.

The images were released by the ocean conservation group Sea Shepherd uk, which is overseeing the resumption of commercial fin whale hunting in Iceland, the only country where the marine mammals can be hunted in the trade. Activists are closely watching the activities of the whaling company Hvalur hf. The company is active with a large whaling station at Hvalfjörður on the west coast of Iceland, and two vessels on fin whales.

Hvalur hf Director Kristján Loftsson told Fox News that, with tens of thousands of fin whales in the waters around Iceland the company is catching a small percentage of the total population in that area. Hvalur hf has a quota of 161 fin whales. The fin whale population around Iceland is estimated to be 40,000-plus, Loftsson said.

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The whales can be hunted during a 100-day season, which begins on June 10.

This photo of a slaughtered whale was taken on 22 June 2018. (Sea Shepherd)

“If you are a farmer in the V. S. that had to do with 40,000 pieces of cattle, he would be clearing of at least 161 a year,” Loftsson added. “If there is a healthy whale stocks, such as fin whales, this is a sustainable process.”

Hvalur hf boats have caught seven whales for this season, he added.

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Controversial hunting of fin whales stopped in Iceland in 2015, when the Japanese authorities refused to import Iceland’s catch, because there is not enough research about the health of the requirements of the code. The commercial hunting recently resumed, Sea Shepherd reports.

This photo was taken on June 22, 2018

(Sea Shepherd)

Sea Shepherd reports that Hvalur hf has an extra quota of 30 fin whales taken from an unused quotas in 2017.

The second largest mammal in the world after the Blue Whale, fin whales are classified as endangered.

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The resumption of commercial hunting has led to a protest from animal rights activists. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), describes all commercial whaling as “inherently cruel.” Some 706 fin whales have been killed since Iceland resumed commercial whaling of fin whales 12 years ago, it reports. “There is no humane way to kill a whale,” explains Sigursteinn Masson, IFAW representative for Iceland in a recent blog post.

This photo was taken on June 27, 2018

(Sea Shepherd)

“If hunters spot a whale, they fire a 90 mm cannon to impale the animal with a grenade-tipped harpoon. A rope attached to the harpoon allows them to tie the whale to the ship and pull him or her to a butcher station onshore,” wrote PETA in a recent blog post.

The fin whale population is considered to be a critical layer outside the Central North-Atlantic region and around Iceland, that was the only country where the mammals were hunted in the trade.

The last counts as of 2015 puts the region’s population at 40,000, the highest on record, Gisli Vikingsson, head of whale research at Iceland’s Marine and Freshwater Research Institute, told the AP earlier this year.

“The common misconception is that we are allowing endangered species to be hunted,” Vikingsson said, “But it is only in the southern hemisphere, that the fin whale population is of crucial importance.”It is thought that 15,000 to 20,000 fin whales in the southern hemisphere, according to the American Cetacean Society.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

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