A moratorium on commercial whaling was passed in 1982 by the International Whaling Commission, taking effect from 1985 onwards.
An Icelandic whaling company has been accused of slaughtering an endangered blue whale in a "deplorable act", provoking anger and condemnation from the global marine conservationist community.
And, according to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation, Icelandic whalers have killed four hybrid blue and fin whales over the years.
Sea Shepherd Founder Captain Paul Watson is calling on the Iceland government to launch an independent investigation and bring Hvalur hf's owner Kristján Loftsson to account. The blue whale is protected both by Icelandic and global law.
Sea Shepherd UK's Chief Operating officer Robert Read demanded that DNA samples should be taken from from all the whale meat and parts in storage at Loftsson's whaling station and warehouses.
Whale scientists, including senior marine scientist of Humane Society International (HSI), Mark Simmonds, believe the whale was a juvenile blue whale or possibly a rare fin whale-blue whale hybrid.
"From the photos, it has all the characteristics of a Blue whale; given that - notably the coloration pattern - there is nearly no possibility that an experienced observer would have misidentified it as anything else at sea", said Dr. Phillip Clapham, NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Centre. "To mistake a blue whale for a fin whale is impossible, this whale has all the characterizations of a fin whale in the ocean".
Heart-breaking photos have emerged appearing to show that hunters in Iceland killing a rare blue whale, which are protected after they almost became extinct due to commercial whaling.
Both blue and fin whales are protected under the worldwide CITES agreement, with the resolution adopted in 1963 by The World Conservation Union and officially enforced from 1975.
"Iceland's whaling is rogue and archaic and should command diplomatic criticism at the highest levels".
It's a species that the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) says hasn't been deliberately killed since 1978.
"Whale 22 (documented by us on July 7th midnight / July 8th early morning) shows features of a blue whale (darker belly, all black baleen, bluish colour)", they wrote in a Facebook post. Prior to the catastrophic commercial whaling of the 20 century it is estimated that there were in the region of a quarter of a million blue whales, but their populations crashed in the 1950s and 60s.