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S. Korea to revamp rules on aquariums to better protect animal rights

Divers perform underwater at Aqua Planet 63 in western Seoul on July 15, 2019. (Yonhap)
Divers perform underwater at Aqua Planet 63 in western Seoul on July 15, 2019. (Yonhap)
South Korea's oceans ministry said Thursday that it plans to come up with detailed guidelines for aquariums and ban newly established facilities from displaying whales and dolphins amid the public's growing awareness of animal rights.

The move came as the country lacks detailed guidelines over the management of animal rights despite the fact that more than a million people visit local aquariums every year, according to the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries.

South Korea currently has 23 aquariums nationwide, including eight public establishments. Three are located in Seoul.

From 2016 to 2020, a total of 20 cetaceans, aquatic mammals such as whales and dolphins, died at local aquariums, according to the ministry.

Accordingly, the ministry said it plans to have newly established aquariums win state approval after going through field inspections by experts. Previously, aquariums only needed to be registered with authorities without regulations.

South Korea will also impose more regulations on visitors' interactions with animals and ban people from touching or feeding animals.

Newly established aquariums will be banned from displaying cetaceans and instead induced to utilize digital technologies. This will not be applied to existing aquariums, however.

Large-sized aquariums will be obligated to have full-time veterinarians.

South Korea plans to complete the revision of related laws by 2025. (Yonhap)