Official defends nation’s record on shark fishing

CONSERVATION::An official said Taiwan has faithfully followed CITES regulations cited in a report, which named the nation as the world’s No. 4 shark catcher

Staff writer, with CNA

Wed, Jul 31, 2013 - Page 3

Taiwan has consistently abided by international regulations on shark fishing and will spare no effort to conserve the species, Fisheries Agency Director-General James Sha (沙志一) said after TRAFFIC, a non-governmental global wildlife trade monitoring network, released a report listing Taiwan as the world’s fourth-largest shark catcher.

TRAFFIC recently completed a study examining how the implementation of trade controls through Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) regulations can ensure that seven species of shark and manta rays are only sourced sustainably and legally.

The study, titled: Into the Deep: Implementing CITES Measures for Commercially Valuable Sharks and Manta Rays, was commissioned by the European Commission and compiled after sharks and manta rays were listed in the CITES Appendices at a meeting held in March in Bangkok.

The latest TRAFFIC study showed that the world’s top 20 shark catchers accounted for nearly 80 percent of the world’s total catch from 2002 to 2011.

The top 20 shark catchers in descending order are: Indonesia, India, Spain, Taiwan, Argentina, Mexico, the US, Malaysia, Pakistan, Brazil, Japan, France, New Zealand, Thailand, Portugal, Nigeria, Iran, Sri Lanka, South Korea and Yemen.

Indonesia and India are responsible for more than 20 percent of the global shark catch for the period, according to the TRAFFIC report.

Sha said Taiwan has faithfully observed CITES regulations cited in the TRAFFIC report.

“Taiwan is the world’s first deep-sea fishing nation to oppose shark finning and has consistently required that sharks be landed with their fins intact,” Sha said, adding that fishermen violating the rules are subject to heavy fines.

Moreover, Taiwan has barred imports of shark fins from countries that are not members of relevant international organizations, he said.

For example, shark fins from Singapore and Hong Kong cannot enter Taiwan, he said.

“Furthermore, we prohibited fishing for whale sharks long before an international ban on catching the species came into force,” Sha added.

Taiwan has also banned the catching of oceanic whitetip sharks since the start of this year in accordance with a decision reached at last year’s annual conference of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, Sha added.