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September 20, 2017

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New rules clamp down on trade of marine mammals

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Legislative Yuan completed ratification of new rules to the Wildlife Conservation Act yesterday to prohibit the import, export and sale of marine mammals and their products without special permits from the governing agency.

In the latest amendment to the Wildlife Conservation Act, first promulgated in Taiwan in June 1989, violators will be subject to fines ranging from NT$10,000 to NT$50,000 while the outlawed products will be confiscated,

Lawmakers said the ban covers marine mammals like seals, sea lions, sea otters, manatees, and sea elephants (also known as elephant seals).

They said that Taiwan has now become the third largest Asian consumer and the fourth in the world in terms of the consumption volume of marine mammals and their products as people believe in the special medical or health effects of the products.

But the habit has helped cause the rising volume of cruelly slaughtered marine mammals, they said.

Taiwan imported 430,000 kilograms of seal oil from Canada during the period from 2003 to 2009 alone, an equivalent of taking the lives of 120,000 seals.

Animal rights groups have stepped up lobbying to revise the wildlife protection rules to prohibit the trade of marine mammals and relevant products since both the United States and the European Union have imposed bans on marine mammal trade.

Under the new rules, importers can bring the products into Taiwan only after getting permission from the Council of Agriculture at the central government with documents proving the products come from foreign aboriginal people who are permitted by the authorities to continue the hunting operations for a living.

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