SEOUL, Feb. 13 (Yonhap) -- A group of animal activists called Saturday for South Korea to free captive dolphins in line with the upcoming policy banning newly established aquariums from displaying marine mammals.
Earlier this year, the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said it plans to ban newly established aquariums from displaying whales and dolphins, although existing facilities will be allowed to continue keeping them.
The decision -- with details yet to be worked out -- came as a total of 20 cetaceans, aquatic mammals such as whales and dolphins, died at local aquariums from 2016 to 2020.
The activists claim that the policy should also be applied to the existing aquariums, which currently raise 27 dolphins nationwide.
"Although the new policy marks a positive change, the government still lacks plans for dolphins that are already in aquariums," a group of animal activists said in a statement, demanding that they should be freed as well.
However, officials from aquariums said that releasing dolphins into the wild may pose a bigger threat to their safety.
"We can still find ways to protect them at aquariums while making efforts to improve their welfare," an official from an aquarium in Geoje, South Gyeongsang Province, said.
The oceans ministry is currently making efforts to find ways to improve the well-being of captive dolphins, although no detailed guidelines have been provided so far.
Currently, South Korea has 23 aquariums nationwide, including eight public establishments.
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