(Images are from a 2007 Wildlife Extra article.)
Ulsan, on the southeastern coast of Korea, has long been known as a center for whale meat and whaling. Whale meat can be purchased there even though whaling is illegal. People in the southeastern area have long eaten whale meat and the trade in it is lucrative. Most of it is from alleged "by-catch" obtained in suspiciously high quantities. The truth is people still hunt whales off the Ulsan coast.
But the good news is that some get caught. In early June, two fishing boats were detained for illegally hunting whales near Ulsan. The news has drawn attention to the illegal practice and for the need to protect the whales--mostly likely Minkes. The following is from a Korea Times report:
Ulsan Coast Guard said Sunday that police officers searched a 4.99-ton class unregistered gill netter that entered Onsan port late Saturday night and found dismembered parts of the whale, weighing nearly 1 ton. They took the 60-year old fishing boat's captain, identified only by his surname Lee, and the other crew members into custody and confiscated the entire catch.
The maritime police also chased another boat suspected of being engaged in the whale poaching and captured it in waters 6.4 kilometers off Onsan port.
Upon a report from a nearby military post about possible illegal whaling, we immediately dispatched two patrol ships and were able to bring them into custody,'' an officer of the Ulsan Coast Guard said. He said investigators are questioning Lee and the other crew members about the details of their illegal actions.
It is indeed heartening to see Korean authorities take the whale poaching issue seriously. Koreans can be proud of the strong position the country is taking against whale poachers.
It is to be hoped at this year's International Whaling Commission (IWC) talks that Korea sides with Western countries, such as Australian, for a total ban on whaling. Japan, of course, is against to such a ban:
At a recent International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting, Australia and other western countries engaged in a war of words with Japan and others conducting commercial whaling.
The IWC has been pushing for an outright ban of whale poaching, while the latter has been insisting that the global community should respect each country's culinary traditions and allow controlled whaling.
It goes without saying that Korea will gain more respect the more it fights the barbaric and illegal practice of whaling. But unfortunately, it looks like Korea may have sided with whaling nations in favoring of lifting the whaling moratorium at the latest round of IWC talks.
Still, as of June 24, the IWC talks have collapsed and no commercial whaling deal is going ahead. Had the IWC approved of a commercial whaling deal for Iceland, Japan and Norway, Korea was apparently ready to join in. Other nations were also waiting for the nod. That's one of the problems with letting commercial operations take hold: open the door just a little, and all the greedy rush in.
Source: Korea Times