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Red coral poaching still 'rampant'

Updated: 2015-05-26 07:26
By Zhang Yan and Wang Xiaodong (China Daily)

China Coast Guard seized more than 200 kg of illegally poached red coral valued at more than 100 million yuan ($16.1 million) over the past year, it announced on Monday.

More than 2,100 ships were inspected and 80 people suspected of illegally harvesting the nationally protected red coral were detained since an anti-poaching campaign was launched in March 2014, China Coast Guard said.

Driven by high profits, the poaching has seriously damaged the species and the ecological environment of the sea where red coral lives, said Hu Xuedong, deputy chief of staff for China Coast Guard. "Illegal poaching of red coral was rampant in 2013 and last year," Hu said.

In April, coast guard members in Guangdong province seized two ships and detained 22 crew members suspected of poaching red coral from the South China Sea. They found 13.53 kg of red coral with a total value of 5.4 million yuan, the largest amount of red coral seized in a single operation.

Due to its medicinal properties and beautiful appearance, red coral is in great demand and sells at prices as high as 6,000 yuan per gram, the coast guard said.

Red coral is usually found in ocean waters from 150 and 2,000 meters deep and grows extremely slowly. It was listed as a top marine wildlife under national protection in 1988 and harvesting was banned.

China Coast Guard will intensify its effort to fight marine life poaching in cooperation with other departments, including the public security bureaus and border control authorities, Hu said.

"We will intensify inspection and law enforcement on both the sea and ports," he said. "Culprits will be punished wherever they poach red coral on the Chinese waters."

Contact the writers at zhangyan1@chinadaily.com.cn and wangxiaodong@chinadaily.com.cn

(China Daily 05/26/2015 page3)

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