South Korea said Sunday it will tighten rules on whaling and the processing of whale meat amid international pressure to curb illegal hunting of the endangered giant mammals.
The agriculture ministry said the new rules, to take effect on Monday, will require fishermen to report to police immediately discoveries of whales trapped in their nets or washed ashore.
Those who claim to have caught dead whales will be required by law to process and sell them only at state-designated facilities, and only those with state permits will be allowed to trade whale meat.
DNA samples of dead whales should be submitted to authorities as demanded by the International Whaling Commission (IWC), so that the government can trace origins of the animals, the ministry said.
The new law is aimed at helping to curb a "growing amount of illegal whale hunting" around the country, it said.
South Korea has banned whaling for commercial sale since 1986 but allows trading of those accidentally caught dead in fishing nets on washed up dead onshore.
But the incidence of accidental fishing of whales has surged in recent years, drawing suspicion from IWC member nations, the ministry said.
Some fishermen illegally catch whales and process the meat onboard before arriving at the port in an attempt to dodge government the clampdown, local media have reported.
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