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Image: Peter Flood

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Prison sentences handed to whale hunters in South Korea

A South Korean court has jailed over 30 men for illegally hunting minke whales and selling their catch to local restaurants.

The Daegu District Court handed down prison terms ranging from 10 to 18 months to two ships captains, a delivery driver and 30 fishermen, and also issued them with fines of up to 5 million won.

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 many local restaurants. A single minke whale can sell for up to 60 million won (around £35,000).

Despite minke whales being protected in South Korea, it is legal to sell meat from whales that are accidentally caught in nets.  However, it is reported that these particular whalers were deliberately hunting whales on a mass scale, using six ships to catch about 40 minke whales in waters off the eastern coast over a two year period.

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