IFAW Validates False Minke Counts by Korean Government
South Korean Police seized 50 tons of minke whale meat validating earlier IFAW research reporting the actual number of minke whales caught is actually much higher than officially reported. The study sponsored by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, performed DNA studies of whale meat sold in markets across South Korea to determine the actual species of whale for sale. The results of this study indicated that several species sold were not reported by South Korea to the International Whaling Commission, the organization responsible for managing whaling around the world. Korea’s only legal source of whale meat comes from whales which are caught by accident, which requires reporting to the Commission. The study investigated 357 whale meat products purchased in Korean markets and identified a total of 8 species sold in 2003, and 11 species of whale in 2005. Of these species identified, three in 2003, and five in 2005 went unreported to officials.
With each minke whale estimated to be valued around $42,000, combined with the fact that fishermen are legally allowed to sell the whale if it’s caught as bycatch, fishermen have a strong incentive to hunt down whales and falsify reporting. The latest seizure by Korean police confirms the results of IFAW’s research demonstrating that greater measures are needed to end poaching and protect whales from commercial exploitation around the world.