Taiwan seizes seven tonnes of dolphin meat

TAIPEI (AFP) - Taiwanese authorities said on Tuesday they had confiscated 7.65 tonnes of dolphin meat in one of the largest hauls of its kind.

Officials seized the meat while searching a frozen goods factory in the southern city of Kaohsiung over the weekend.

Tests confirmed the product was dolphin, and it is estimated 150 of the animals were slaughtered to create the stockpile, the Pingtung Forest District Office said.

The factory owner, who said he bought the meat from local fishermen, faces up to five years in jail and a maximum fine of NT$1.5 million (S$63,000) for violating wildlife protection laws, said the agency which organised the search.

An investigation is ongoing and it is not clear where the dolphins were caught and sold.

Eating wild animals, including whales and dolphins, has long been a tradition for residents in some coastal areas of Taiwan, who believe they are good for health.

But all species of whales and dolphins have been protected by Taiwan's conservation law since 1989.

It is illegal to buy protected animals for any purpose.