Fri, May 30, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Students in hot water for poaching seashells

JAIL BAIT The seniors involved in catching and grilling sea creatures from Kenting National Park face being fined by their university, and could also face prison sentences

By Chiu Yu-tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Students involved in the poaching of seashells at Kenting National Park last year will be punished by not only the university they attend, but also the park's headquarters.

A report by an online news agency on Wednesday exposed illegality involving the capture of rare seashells at the national park by students of the Keelung-based National Taiwan Ocean University (NTOU) last year. Photographs accompanying the report show that students were displaying and grilling seashells, fish and octopi.

NTOU officials said yesterday that the story was exaggerated because the facts had not been verified.

The report came after officials at the Kenting National Park Headquarters (墾丁國家公園管理處) posted a warning notice on May 26. The notice expressed their anger and disappointment about a personal Web site, on which more than 70 photos of the illegal capturing of sea creatures in the park were posted.

The officials notified the NTOU of the event, urging the administration to launch a fact-finding mission based on clues found on the Web site.

Yesterday, two students involved in the matter said during a university investigation that only some of the photos that appeared with the online report were taken at Kenting, implying that the news report conveyed unverified information.

According to Chen Ming-ren (陳銘仁) from the NTOU Secretariat, other photos of fish and octopi being grilled were taken at other places, including the northeast coast, Audi (澳底) fishing port and Penghu island (澎湖).

Chen said that in April last year, two students from the Department of Environmental Biology and Fisheries Science visited the national park where they dived to collect certain seashells. Chen said this was in violation of regulations.

"In connection with the regrettable event in Kenting, the administration will not only record demerits but also use the case as an example to educate other students," Chen said.

The two senior male students involved yesterday took a letter of penitence to the park's headquarters to apologize for their behavior.

Officials said that the students would be fined between NT$3,000 and NT$15,000 for violating the National Parks Law (國家公園法).

Other related laws, such as the Wild Animal Protection Law (野生動物保護法), officials said, might put the students in prison, if a complaint was filed by the park's headquarters.

"We have not made a final decision to take them to court. Seizing the chance to educate other students is more important," said Lee Yeng-sen (李養盛), the superintendent at the headquarters.

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