By Gu Liping
(ECNS) -- A court in Taizhou city, situated in East China's Zhejiang province, has sentenced 13 red coral poachers from one year and six months to six years in prison and fined the group nearly one million yuan ($161,440), a local news paper said.
The two key organizing figures, Liang from Fujian province and Jin from Ningbo in Zhejiang province, employed 11 sailors in April to obtain red coral -- highly prized in China as jewelry -- in East Sea waters.
On April 19, they were stopped by coast guards who found red coral weighing 7.2395 kilograms in their vessel. It is estimated that they poached red coral worth 2.89 million yuan ($466,810) in total.
Red coral has been a first-level protected species in China since 1988. It is said that red coral needs 300 years to gain a kilogram while a gram of top level red coral is worth nearly 10,000 yuan ($1,615) in the market.