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MOSCOW: A Russian court on Friday fined a fishing firm for illegally capturing killer whales and keeping them in an overcrowded “jail” in the country’s far east.

The company that supplies sea mammals to aquariums is one of four firms keeping 10 killer whales and 87 beluga whales in a controversial facility near the port town of Nakhodka.

Media have nicknamed it a “whale jail” due to its crammed pens and the company’s controversial plans to sell the animals to aquariums in nearby China.

A district court in the far eastern city of Vladivostok ruled that the White Whale company violated fishing regulations when it captured three killer whales, also called orcas, and ordered it to pay a fine of 28.1 million rubles ($432,000), news agencies and activists said.

Regional environmental activist Dmitry Lisitsyn, coordinator of Sakhalin Watch group, said he expected similar decisions about the rest of the killer whales and eventually belugas.

Published in Dawn, June 8th, 2019