By Eva Dou
Dolphins and whales are animals that are pretty easy to identify in the water. Identifying their meat on a plate, however, is a little trickier.
Taiwan has gone high-tech in its efforts to crack down on dolphin and whale poaching. Last week, police and other officials completed training for a new litmus-paper test that speeds up the process for identifying dolphin or whale meat, with conclusive identification available within 10 minutes, versus four to five days through DNA testing, said Taiwan’s Forestry Bureau conservation section head Kuan Li-Hao.
Catching dolphins and whales has been illegal in Taiwan since 1989, after it was outlawed in many other countries in 1986, when the International Whaling Commission set a moratorium on commercial whaling. But some groups of fishermen, especially on Taiwan’s east coast, have a tradition of eating meat from the large marine mammals.
“It was common, especially in some poorer regions,” Mr. Kuan said. “Some called it sea pork.”
Dolphin meat is “pitch black” and very fishy, and was traditionally prepared in Taiwan by stir-frying thin slices with ginger, rice wine and basil to tame the fishiness, according to local media. Once cooked, the dish is entirely black. Whale is less commonly eaten in Taiwan, Mr. Kuan said, but it is often eaten raw as sashimi in Japan.
Poaching continues today, although not in high volume. Mr. Kuan says the department catches about 20 cases a year in Taiwan. More....