Police in South Korea are continuing to catch more and more poachers involved in illegal minke whale hunting that is being driven by the vast sums of money that the meat fetches, and demand from local restaurants.
A single minke whale can sell for up to 60 million won (around £35,000), with ‘whale meat culture’ especially strong in the cities of Ulsan, Busan, and Pohang. Jangsanpo, the home of Korea’s famous Ulsan Whale Festival is home to 20 whale meat restaurants alone.
The poachers use small vessels to avoid detection by police radars and use harpoons that contain spikes to grip the whale’s flesh. Once captured and killed, the poachers mark the position with a buoy and return at night to collect the whale.
In a call to stop the growth of whale meat restaurants, Hyung Geun Kim from the Ulsan Federation for Environmental Movement said; “We must get rid of the whale meat culture altogether, and transform the Ulsan Whale Meat Festival into a cultural festival focused on whale-watching ships and whale museums.”