The whale shark has been added to the nation’s list of protected species, the Ocean Affairs Council said on Tuesday, adding that offenders face fines and imprisonment.
The whale shark, along with the giant oceanic manta ray and the reef manta ray, were on Tuesday last week added to the list, making the disturbance, abuse, slaughter or capture of any of the three species punishable by up to five years in prison, and a fine of NT$300,000 to NT$1.5 million (US$10,033 to US$50,164), the council said.
Whale sharks have been sighted in waters near Hualien for a few years now, and in March this year a roughly 6m whale shark swam into the Port of Hualien looking for food, it said.
Photo courtesy of Turumoan Whale Watching and Water Entertainment Co
The capture of the three species has long been prohibited by stipulations in the Fisheries Act (漁業法), which require fishers to return the animals to the sea if accidentally caught, alive or dead, Hualien County Bureau of Agriculture Director Lo Wen-lung (羅文龍) said, but changes were made to enhance protection of the species by increasing the severity of punishments for offenders.
People who have whale sharks or manta rays in their care, or possess products made from any of the three species before Tuesday last week, must register them with the county government between June 1 and Aug. 31, according to Article 31 of the Wildlife Conservation Act (野生動物保育法) or face a fine of between NT$10,000 and NT$50,000, Lo said.
The three species are popular pets among fish enthusiasts due to their gentle temperament, Lo said. Whale sharks in particular are an oddity among sharks as they swim slowly, and feed on small fish and plankton, he said.
The Hualien District Prosecutors’ Office has listed six people as suspects in a judicial investigation into a fatal train crash on Friday last week. Fifty people were killed and more than 200 were injured when the Taroko Express No. 408 train slammed into a crane truck that had slid onto the tracks near the entrance of Cingshuei Tunnel (清水隧道) in Hualien’s Sioulin Township (秀林). The office also summoned six officials at the Taiwan Railways Administration’s (TRA) Hualien Engineering Section for questioning about alleged illegal business operations and unsafe work conditions by Yi Hsiang Industry Co and Tung Hsin Construction Co, the two
SUPPORTING DEMOCRACY IN ASIA: Twitter aims to ‘play a unique role in enabling the public conversation around important social movements,’ the US company said Twitter has thrown its support behind the “Milk Tea Alliance” of democracy movements in Taiwan, Hong Kong and elsewhere in Asia, defying China at a time when Beijing is punishing Western companies for commenting on what it considers internal matters. The social media company yesterday prominently displayed flags of Taiwan, Hong Kong, Myanmar and Thailand while unveiling an emoji to support democracy advocates in places that have in the past few years seen historic protests and share a love for the beverage. The emoji will automatically show up when users post the #MilkTeaAlliance hashtag, which was posted been 11 million times
The navy’s new 10,600-tonne warship is on Tuesday to be christened the ROCN Yushan (玉山), as the nation’s indigenous shipbuilding program reaches a milestone, sources said yesterday. The vessel, previously referred to as the “new landing platform dock,” was at a shipyard with its name freshly painted on the hull with the number 1401, the Liberty Times (the sister paper of the Taipei Times) reported yesterday, citing an unnamed observer. Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇), a member of the legislature’s National Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee, confirmed the report in a Facebook post. The NT$4.635 billion (US$163 million) ship is designed
TEMPERED EXPECTATIONS: Although analysts welcomed the updated guidance from Washington, Taipei should push back on ‘unnecessary’ restrictions, they said New US guidelines expanding official contacts with Taiwan might be a positive step, but Taipei should still try to break down limits on bilateral interactions that stem from Washington’s “one China” policy, foreign affairs analysts said on Saturday. On Friday, the US Department of State announced that it had issued new guidelines to “liberalize” government contacts with Taiwan, which it said were designed to “encourage engagement ... that reflects our deepening unofficial relationship.” Although not made public, the guidelines would reportedly allow US officials to meet with their Taiwanese counterparts in US federal buildings and at Taiwanese representative offices in the US,