Mon, May 08, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Speargun ban idea riles fishermen

By Chang Tsun-wei  /  Staff reporter

A proposal by the Council of Agriculture (COA) to protect coral reefs by banning the use of spearguns within 12 nautical miles (22.2km) of the nation’s coastline has outraged fishermen and Taitung County councilors, who plan to protest in front of the Taitung County Council today.

The council on March 15 published a draft amendment to the Fisheries Act (漁業法), triggering a 60-day period for public comment before the proposal is forwarded to the Legislative Yuan.

The amendment would ban the use of spearguns, which are regulated by the Ministry of the Interior, within 22.2km of the coast with the exception of spearguns registered in and used by Aboriginal communities, by the legitimate spear fishing industry and for academic research.

The Taitung County Police Bureau said there are 178 registered spearguns owned by Aborigines and 190 owned by fishermen.

The Taitung County Council on Thursday and Friday held public forums on the proposed amendment.

Many people in Taitung make a living from fishing and the central government cannot issue an order that would restrict their ability to support themselves, Taitung County Council Speaker Rao Ching-ling (饒慶鈴) said.

Fisherman Lin Yuan-chang (林源暢), who spoke at Friday’s forum, said a scuba tank’s air usually lasts for 30 to 40 minutes, and it takes about 10 minutes to catch a fish.

Given the restrictions, scuba-diving fishermen usually hunt for fish weighing more than 1kg, because smaller fish do not make the effort worthwhile, Lin said.

Taitung County councilors Hsu Chin-jung (許進榮) and Hsieh Hsien-yu (謝賢裕) have spoken out against the proposal and said they would take part in today’s protest.

“There are pros and cons to the draft amendment,” Fisheries Agency Deputy Director-General Huang Hung-yan (黃鴻燕) said yesterday. “Environmental protection campaigners are strongly opposed to the use of spearguns.”

“We have heard different opinions and will hold a public hearing in late May,” he said, adding that a date and venue have not been set.

Additional reporting by Lin Chia-nan

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