Sat, May 28, 2005 - Page 2 News List

New fish species found off Taitung

CNA , TAIPEI

Four new fish species were discovered in deep-sea waters near Green Island, a senior researcher with Academia Sinica said.

Shao Kuang-chao (邵廣昭), the acting director of Academia Sinica's Biological Diversity Study Center, said that three deep-divers from Hawaii dived to a depth of 80m to 90m off Green Island on Monday and Tuesday to survey fish resources in the region.

The project marked the first time Taiwan and the US have cooperated in exploring fishery resources in coral reefs in the area, Shao said.

Shao added that Academia Sinica helped finance the project.

"According to our initial judgment, the US divers have collected samples of four new fish species in coral reefs off Green Island," Shao said.

He said that the team has also recorded seven or eight fish species that had previously never been collated.

The species include chromis delta and plectranthias winniensis.

Shao said the deep-diving team, headed by Richard Pyle, an associate researcher at Bishop Museum in Hawaii, had spotted more than 200 fish species during the dives and had collected samples of 30-plus genuses in more than 10 families for further study.

"We'll cooperate with the American team in completing an academic paper based on the samples," Shao said.

According to Pyle, Green Island boasts a world-class deep-sea environment and is rich in marine resources. However, he said, the currents are very strong in the region, making it difficult to collect fish samples.

"We spotted many new fish species but we had a hard time catching any of them," Pyle said.

Pyle also accused Taiwan of overfishing because he and his colleagues saw mostly small fish and seldom spotted big fish during their dives.

"While there are many fish species in the region, there are few large fish and many of them swim alone. Few of them are found in shoals. The big fish might have all been caught and ended up in human bellies," he said.

Moreover, Pyle said they spotted a great deal of discarded fishing gear even at depths of 100m.

He said the government should establish maritime preservation areas as soon as possible to better protect fishery resources.

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