Thursday, 28 September 2017

Two Buddhists fined £15,000 for releasing crustaceans into sea

Saturday 23 September 2017 11.31 BST Last modified on Monday 25 September 2017 09.54 BST

Two Buddhists who released £5,000 worth of crustaceans into the Channel as part of a religious ceremony have been fined almost £15,000 for causing “untold damage” to the environment.

Zhixiong Li and Ni Li helped throw live crabs and lobsters into the sea off Brighton as part of a “life release” ceremony in 2015, a court has heard.

The pair were part of a group of almost 1,000 people celebrating the visit of the Taiwanese Buddhist master Hai Tao.

Their ritual was performed in the belief that returning animals to the wild is good karma. But because the crustaceans were not native species, they threatened other marine life and government agencies had to spend thousands of pounds in an attempt to recapture the shellfish, offering fishermen a bounty to reel them in.

In the first case of its kind, Zhixiong Li, 30, an estate agent, and Ni Li, 33, a City banker, both from London, admitted wildlife offences and were fined.

Both defendants pleaded guilty to releasing non-native species into the wild at Brighton magistrates’ court this week.

Joseph Miller, prosecuting for the Marine Management Organisation, said the case first came to light after a Brighton fisherman captured some of the foreign shellfish in June 2015.
CCTV footage from Brighton marina showed the group of Buddhists chartering three boats, having also bought more than £2,500 worth of native crabs and lobsters from Brighton and Newhaven Fish Sales at Shoreham harbour.

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