Tue, Mar 26, 2019 - Page 4 News List

Penghu urged to redo octopus rules

FISHING PROBLEMS:Research center director Justin Hsieh said sustainability would only be possible if zones are created and fishing is done on a rotational basis

By Liu Yu-ching and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The Penghu County Government should abandon time-specific fishing bans in favor of regional restrictions, Penghu Marine Biology Research Center director Justin Hsieh (謝恆毅) said.

From about February to early April each year, a species of small octopus endemic to Penghu, which are apparently still unnamed, gather in the intertidal zone along the Penghu shoreline in preparation for breeding.

However, catching the octopuses has become a popular nightly activity in in parts of the county, such as Baisha Township’s (白沙) Citou (岐頭) and Jhongtun (中屯) villages, and Magong City’s (馬公) Chongguang Borough (重光).

Overfishing has led to concerns not only of extinction of the octopuses, but also that damage to the intertidal zone by fishers poses a threat to all marine species.

Although the Penghu Agriculture and Fisheries Bureau bans fishing for the octopuses for the three-month period, critics say that the restriction has only caused populations to shrink further.

This was the case with bans on collector urchin fishing in the region, critics say, as when the restriction ends on July 1 each year, the species is killed in large numbers.

This year, prices for the octopuses have reportedly reached NT$1,200 per jin (600g).

Some have also questioned the timing of the ban on capturing the octopuses — which lasts from Friday to April 12 this year — saying it allows them to be caught before they have reproduced.

Hsieh said he has approached the county government several times to advise it to adopt a region-specific approach instead, but to no avail.

Fishing practices would only be sustainable if zones are created and fishing is allowed on a rotational basis, he said.

Due to the effects of climate change, the population of the Penghu octopus species has experienced great fluctuations, said Cheng Chen-cheng (城振誠), an associate research fellow at the center who has been studying the species for more than a decade.

The most significant hit to the population occurred after an unusually cold winter in 2008, Cheng said.

Fishers only caught one octopus for every two trips following that winter, he said, adding that years later the catch rate returned to an average of more than 10 per trip.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top