Great white shark caught near surfing contest site

Staff writer, with CNA

Fri, Nov 16, 2012 - Page 3

A pregnant great white shark was caught off Taitung County on Wednesday, one day before the start of a major surfing competition in the area.

The shark was 4.5m long, weighed more than 900kg and was carrying six pups.

“I haven’t caught sharks like that around here for years,” said Hsu Jung-hui (許榮輝), a local fisherman who caught a 700kg shark in the area about five years ago.

The shark was later sold for NT$185,000 at a local fish market.

The presence of a great white shark in the waters off Taiwan is an indication that the marine ecology in the area has improved, said Chuang Shou-cheng (莊守正), an associate professor of the Department of Environmental Biology and Fisheries Science at National Taiwan Ocean University.

He said great whites were usually found in the waters around Taiwan, but the population has dropped in the last few decades as a result of marine pollution.

The shark was caught about 300m off the Taitung coastline, about 100m from where the 2012 Taiwan Open of Surfing competition will run through Sunday, according to Chen Shu-hui (陳淑慧), director of the Taitung Department of Culture and Tourism.

Chen said the local government will strengthen safety measures to protect surfers.

Over the past few weeks, three sharks — two great whites and one rare megamouth — have been caught off the northeastern coasts of Yilan, Hualien and Taitung counties.

Great white sharks have been listed in Appendix II of the Washington Convention since 2004, which means fishermen are required to report any catches of the shark species to the relevant authorities.