The Fisheries Agency yesterday announced a five-year project with National Taiwan Ocean University and Wildlife21 that seeks to attach satellite tags to 100 endangered whale sharks to expand research and promote conservation of the species.
In celebration of International Whale Shark Day on Aug. 30, which was postponed because of a typhoon, the agency held a press conference yesterday to make public the results of the nation’s whale shark conservation efforts in recent years.
The whale shark, nicknamed “big dumb shark” by fishermen in Taiwan because of its slow swimming speed and tame behavior, is a highly migratory species often found in the seas near Taiwan, the agency said.
The meat of a whale shark is tender and white, which has also gained it a nickname, “tofu shark,” among seafood consumers in Taiwan who have made them a part of local cuisine, the agency said.
Since the species has a low reproduction rate and takes a long period to mature, the number of whale sharks has greatly decreased.
In 2002, the whale shark was included in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora Appendix II, meaning “not yet threatened by extinction, but may become so unless trade in specimens of such species is subject to strict regulation.”
The Taiwanese government launched a reporting system in 2001, started regulating the total catch of whale sharks in 2002, reduced the catch number annually from 2005 and finally put a total ban on catching, selling, possessing, exporting and importing whale sharks, the agency said.
Fisheries Agency Director Sha Chih-yi (沙志一) said since the first tag was attached to a whale shark in 2002, a total of 353 whale sharks had been tagged, with 323 conventional tag attachments and 30 satellite tags transmitting data. Data collected from nine whale sharks has allowed researchers to learn more about their daily habits and movements, he said.
Chuang Shou-cheng (莊守正), an associate professor at the university’s Department of Environmental Biology and Fisheries Science, said that in comparison to the five whale sharks that stumbled into set-nets annually, they have found about three times that number this year — evidence that the total ban has been helpful in preserving the species.
Whale shark catching is almost banned by every country in the west Pacific, except Japan, which still has no regulations, and China, he said.
He added that whale shark protection needs international cooperation, otherwise what is preserved in Taiwan would only become increased live stocks in other countries.
Other than satellite tagging to better understand the behavior of whale sharks, the agency said it also began a National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks in 2006 to gather more information on sharks, promote conservation education and international collaboration, and to enact a policy of “catching the whole shark, with fins attached” to avoid wasting sea resources by only cutting off the shark fins to supply high-priced seafood.
Wildlife21 executive director Rebecca Lisson said Taiwan’s efforts, including the new satellite project and its policies, place it in a globally leading role for protecting whale sharks.
A debt dispute between a restaurant owner and a criminal ring might be behind a bizarre cockroach attack at the Taipei eatery on Monday night while it was hosting a police gathering, Taipei Police Commissioner Chen Jia-chang (陳嘉昌) said yesterday. Preliminary findings of a police investigation into the case at the G House Taipei suggest that the unusual incident might have been directed at the restaurant’s owner, who allegedly owes money to the Bamboo Union, Chen said. The suspects were Bamboo Union members and there was no evidence indicating that the cockroaches were targeted at the police officers at the restaurant, he
The Taipei City Government yesterday officially launched the “YouBike 2.0” system, an upgraded version of the bicycle rental service, saying that it aims to expand the service to more than 1,200 stations throughout the city. The system yesterday activated 160 new stations, in addition to 103 stations in the Gongguan (公館) shopping area near the National Taiwan University campus. A trial run of YouBike2.0 was launched there in January last year. The Taipei Department of Transportation said that bicycles of the upgraded system feature solar panels and card censors, which allow users to rent them by swiping their EasyCard or scanning a QR
QUARANTINE BLUNDER: The government should be responsible for a cluster infection at a hotel, as the cases have caused panic, DPP Legislator Chen Ming-wen said The Ministry of Transportation and Communications should make it mandatory for pilots and flight attendants, as well as their family members, to be vaccinated in view of a cluster of COVID-19 cases at the Novotel Taipei Taoyuan International Airport hotel, lawmakers said at a meeting of the legislature’s Transportation Committee yesterday. The cluster infection at the hotel had led to 28 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Tuesday, including hotel workers, as well as China Airlines flight and cabin crew, and their family members. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday tightened quarantine requirements for pilots and flight attendants, who must quarantine
‘COLD ATTITUDE’: The man claimed that his wife of nearly 50 years had not cooked or done any laundry for 40 years and that she refused to bathe A court last month rejected a man’s application for a divorce over lack of evidence that his wife “would rather feed stray dogs” than her husband. The 90-year-old man, surnamed Chao (趙), filed for divorce from his wife of nearly 50 years, surnamed Tung (董), saying that she had not cooked or done any laundry for 40 years. “Every morning my wife goes to Gaoping Bridge to feed stray dogs and does not come home until late,” Chao said. “I am 90 and I need to be taken care of,” he said, complaining of his wife’s “cold attitude” toward him. Chao also complained in