Fri, Jan 28, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Taiwan is world’s fourth-largest shark catcher, report says

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff Reporter

Taiwan is the world’s fourth-largest shark catcher, a report on shark conservation said yesterday.

The Future of Sharks: A Review of Action and Inaction, a report released by the wildlife trade monitoring group TRAFFIC and the Pew Environment Group and scheduled to be reviewed by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Committee on Fisheries next week, identifies the top 20 shark-catching countries and other entities and assesses their management of conservation measures agreed upon in 2001.

The analysis shows that the top 20 countries account for about 80 percent of total reported shark catches, or about 640,000 tonnes, with Indonesia, India, Spain and Taiwan accounting for 13 percent, 9 percent, 7.3 percent and 5.8 percent respectively.

“The future of many shark populations is essentially in the hands of the top 20,” the two organizations said, adding that the International Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks “has yet to be fully implemented” since it was adopted by the FAO a decade ago.

About 30 percent of all shark species are threatened or near threatened with extinction as a result of unregulated fishing, much of it to meet the high demand for fins used as an ingredient in shark fin soup, a popular dish in East Asian countries, the report said.

The two organizations said the committee, which will hold a meeting from Monday to Friday in Rome to examine the effectiveness of the internal plan of action, prioritized its review on top catchers — including Indonesia, India, Taiwan, Argentina, Mexico, Pakistan and Malaysia — with little or no management of shark fisheries.

Most of the top 20 shark catchers “have failed to demonstrate what, if anything, they are doing to save these imperiled species,” the organizations said.

In Taipei, Fisheries Agency Director Sha Chih-yi (沙志一) yesterday said Taiwan had enforced conservation measures adopted by regional fisheries management organizations since its National Plan of Action was put into effect in 2006 and was considering doing more to protect other endangered marine species.

The regulations imposed by the agency on Taiwanese vessels include requiring vessels to transship and offload fins and carcasses together and ensuring that the fin to whole-body weight is less than 5 percent, Sha said.

Taiwanese vessels are also required to report the weight of shark bodies and fins on board when entering and leaving ports, as well as the weight of shark fins and carcasses offloaded while in port, he said.

Saying the regulations met the requirements on shark conservation and management measures of regional fisheries management organizations, Sha said the government would nevertheless enhance its inspection procedures to crack down on illegal fishing.

Sha said Taiwan was also considering imposing a ban on imports of fins and shark products from countries that are not participants in the international conservation and management plan to help end illegal fishing of endangered sharks.

Taiwan will also take part in the committee meeting next week in its capacity as a member of the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna.

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