BUSAN, Feb. 3 (Korea Bizwire) – A finless porpoise rescued from Geoje Island waters last month has been safely released back to the ocean. The porpoise was accidentally caught in the fishing net of a local vessel on December 27, giving it multiple scars.
Luckily, the captain of the ship reported the incident to officials immediately, and the porpoise was rescued and safely transported to the Sea Life Busan Aquarium, which has the only professional treatment facility for finless porpoises in Korea. The porpoise was cared for until it recovered and released with an ID tag on Thursday.
Incidental catch of finless porpoises, often referred to in Korea as “smiling dolphins,” is a common occurrence in South Korea.
Almost 9,700 whales, including 6,573 finless porpoises, were killed from accidentally being caught in fishing nets from 2011 to 2015. Their population saw a significant decline since the official census for finless porpoise began in 2005, dropping from 36,000 to 13,000 by 2011.
Captain Kim Gyung-ju, who facilitated the swift rescue of the porpoise last month, was given an “Exemplary Vessel” certificate, the first of its kind, by the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, which is now displayed on the exterior of his vessel.
The ministry plans to continue issuing the certificates to raise awareness of protecting Korea’s marine life, and promote more active reporting of similar incidents in the future.
“Rescue operations and treatment of endangered marine animals will continue, and we’ll be developing environmentally friendly fishing gear (including equipment to prevent incidental catch) for commercial use,” said a ministry official.
By Lina Jang (firstname.lastname@example.org)