Taiwan to use DNA to protect whales, dolphins
Taiwan plans to use DNA from whales and dolphins as evidence to convict poachers and protect the endangered marine animals, an official said Monday.
The tactic is meant to outwit poachers who try to cover their tracks after catching whales and dolphins by cutting off the animals' heads, tails and fins, said Hsia Jung-sheng, an official from the Council of Agriculture.
"What they don't know is that the government has set up a comprehensive databank on DNA from whales and dolphins," she told AFP.
"Using molecular biotechnology, experts can easily pin down the species of whales or dolphins even if the sample is just a scrap of meat."
Taiwan's coastguards last week discovered a haul of dolphin meat weighing more than 1.3 tonnes in the northeastern fishing port of Suao.
All species of whales and dolphins are protected by Taiwan's conservation law, and any person found violating the law faces a prison term of up to five years and a fine of up to 1.5 million Taiwan dollars (47,000 US dollars).
(c) 2010 AFP