The Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan (East) yesterday urgently requested the Fisheries Agency of the Council of Agriculture (COA) enforce an existing ban on commercial shark finning.
Kuroshio Ocean Educational Foundation executive director Chang Tai-ti said that scientific research has shown that sharks do not hunt humans as a survival instinct.
In fact, sharks are only occasionally attracted to surfers which the animals mistake as seals, according to Chang. However, people are not part of sharks’ biological food chain and tend to discard surfers after an initial attack, Chang said.
East chief Chen Yu-min noted that great white sharks and basking sharks have both been listed as protected species on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
The central government has legislated the ban on commercial fishing on these two particular species and their purchase, ownership, import or exports since 2007, Chen said. According to Fisheries Law, violators can be sentenced to up to three years in prison or fined up to NT$150,000 (US$5,100).
To encourage the conservation of the species, fishermen who release sharks after catching them are entitled to rewards of NT$30,000 ($1,000).
The Humane Society of the United States argued that with China’s rapid economic growth, the increasing demand for shark fins might damage the global shark population. As an apex predator, the decline of shark species will cause an imbalance in the marine food chain. The Global Shark Conversation Initiative and the Australian Anti-Shark Finning Alliance have both launched petitions to ban shark-finning and publicised them over international social media networks.
The COA has set a goal of ensuring the sustainable fishing of sharks while mitigating any effects on the Taiwan fishing industry caused by adopting measures to protection sharks.
The council also promised to continue being active in the stock assessment of sharks in various regional fisheries management organizations.