The Hualien County Government said it would continue to defer to Fisheries Agency regulations regarding whale-watching activities, adding that it is not planning to draft regulations under the county’s ordinance for self-government.
The announcement was in response to comments made by travel journalist Huang Chia-lin (黃佳琳) on a video provided by a whale-watching company.
Last week, Huang shared a video on Facebook and wrote that the whale-watching boats seen in the footage were too close to the sperm whale.
Photo courtesy of Turumoan Whale Watching and Water Entertainment Co.
Whale-watching companies have been operating in Taiwan for more than 20 years, but there is still no government regulation of the industry, Huang said.
County government official Huang Yao-hsing (黃耀興) said the three whale-watching businesses in the county observed agency regulations and exercised great self-discipline.
Should the county government move to draft an ordinance on the matter, it would invite academics and experts on the subject, he said.
However, the county is not contemplating such a move, due to the procedure involved, he added.
The agency had called two public hearings regarding the whale-watching industry, but was not given a legal basis to establish binding legislation on the industry, Huang Yao-hsing said.
Whale-watching boats should slow down within 300m of whales and dolphins, and should only approach the animals from behind, Huang Yao-hsing said, citing regulations.
The boats should idle their engines within 80m of the whales and business operators should refrain from having too many boats circling the animals, Hung Yao-hsing said, adding that the boats should keep their distance from whales with calves.
Turumoan Whale Watching co-owner Lu Shih-ming (呂世明) said that the company has instructed its boats to idle their engines within 500m of whales and dolphins, and refrain from taking overt actions.
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