14 Jun 2019 10:01

Vladivostok court imposes 56-mln-ruble fine on orcas' harvester Oceanarium DV

VLADIVOSTOK. June 14 (Interfax) - The Vladivostok Frunzensky District Court has imposed a 56.4-million-ruble fine on LLC Oceanarium DV, which harvested and held orcas and belugas in the "whale jail."

"LLC Oceanarium DV is found guilty and sentenced to a fine of 56.429 million rubles," Judge Olga Yasinskaya said.

The ruling can be appealed before it takes effect.

The company said it was unsatisfied with the ruling. "We will file an appeal," a company representative said.

LLC Oceanarium DV has been found guilty of violating harvesting regulations. The court established that violations had been committed in the harvesting of three orcas: the whales were caught in an area closed for harvesting, wrong technical means and types of vessels were used, and the harvesting procedure was violated.

The company pleaded not guilty and asked the court to drop the case due to the absence of formal elements of an offense.

On June 7, the Vladivostok Frunzensky District Court imposed an almost-30-million-ruble fine on another harvester, Bely Kit, for violating harvesting regulations.

The court is hearing two similar cases concerning Afalina and Sochi Dolphinarium.

Back on May 31, the Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk City Court proclaimed the allotment of 2018 whale harvesting quotas by the Federal Agency for Fishery unlawful. Still, the demand of animal rights activists that the whales be seized from the harvesters and released into the wild was dismissed. The environmentalists appealed the latter decision.

A hundred of orcas and beluga whales were harvested in the Sea of Okhotsk in 2018 for being sold to Chinese oceanariums. The animals were caged in the Srednyaya Bay off shore Nakhodka in the Primorye Territory; the place was later dubbed as the "whale jail." An inquiry initiated by the public, the Prosecutor General's Office, and the Russian Investigative Committee revealed multiple violations of the harvesting regulations. Criminal and administrative cases were opened. The Natural Resources and Ecology Ministry and other government agencies pledged to release the whales into the wild this summer after a brief adaptation program. Meanwhile, children are taken on tours to the "whale jail" and there is no adaptation program in progress.