Taiwan seizes 820kg of dolphin meat from couple

TAIPEI (AFP) - Taiwan coastguards said on Thursday that they have arrested two people and seized 820kg of dolphin meat as the island steps up efforts to protect endangered animals.

The raid on the couple's home in southern Yunlin county on Tuesday came after Taiwan introduced new biotechnology for on-the-spot testing of suspicious meat.

The couple told the coastguards that they acquired the meat from a supplier in the north and had already sold 120kg to restaurants.

They were arrested under the country's wildlife protection laws and face up to five years in jail and a fine of up to NT$1.5 million (S$63,195) if convicted.

Coastguards said they were still hunting the suppliers.

"The seizure was the biggest this year," Mr Shih Yi-che, a coastguard spokeman, told AFP.

The meat was tested in a laboratory after being purchased by an undercover officer, but Taiwan last month introduced a new litmus paper test that can determine whether meat is whale or dolphin within minutes.

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.

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