Mon, Jun 13, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Fisherman caught with shark fins

MORE DETERRENTS NEEDED:Greenpeace Taiwan said that raising fines for illegal fishing and improving law enforcement is critical in the fight against shark finning

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

A Taiwanese fishing vessel allegedly violated shark fin harvesting laws as Coast Guard Administration officers in Hualien County on Saturday found four shark fins without their carcasses onboard the vessel.

Coast guard inspectors boarded the Kaohsiung-registered fishing boat Dong Fa Sheng at Hualien Fishing Port and found pieces of what appeared to be shark fins without any shark carcasses, according to a report by the Chinese-language Apple Daily.

Eastern Coastal Patrol Office inspector Liao Jen-jung (廖仁榮) said the boat’s captain, surnamed Lin (林), admitted to removing fins from one shark and abandoning the remainder of the shark carcass at sea before entering the port, saying that he intended to eat the fins himself.

The fins weighed 2.1kg and were delivered to the Fisheries Agency to determine whether they belonged to a protected species.

The Fisheries Agency banned shark finning in 2012, stipulating that only unprotected shark species could be harvested, but the whole shark must be retained and transported to port in its entirety.

According the the Fisheries Act (漁業法), Lin could face a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a maximum fine of NT$150,000.

Greenpeace Taiwan campaigner Yen Ning (顏寧) said the alleged shark finning might not incur a heavy punishment because fishery authorities measure the severity of shark finning by the size of the ship in addition to the number of fins harvested.

The alleged shark finning might not constitute a severe violation judging by previous instances, Yen said, adding that raising fines for illegal fishing and improving law enforcement is important in the fight against shark finning.

“The maximum fine of NT$150,000 for a fishing violation has been considered too lenient,” Yen said. “The EU and many countries impose a fine of up to five times the illegal gains collected via shark finning. That is more effective in reducing the shark finning practice.”

The legislature has been reviewing the so-called “three fishery acts,” which aim to raise the maximum fine for illegal fishing activities.

The EU last year issued a “yellow card” to Taiwan over what it called the nation’s failure to enforce fishing laws following the discovery of illegal shark finning by a Taiwanese vessel in international waters.

The alleged shark finning by the crew of the Dong Fa Sheng would not have a direct bearing on Taiwan’s attempt to remove the EU yellow card, because the EU warning was focused on the practice of long-distance fishing fleets rather than coastal fishing vessels like the Dong Fa Sheng, Yen said.

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