Taiwan nabs truck-load of illegal shark meat

Fisheries Agency seizes over 30 tons of illicit shark meat in southern Taiwan

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Over 30 tons of contraband shark meat. (Image courtesy of Fisheries Agency)

Over 30 tons of contraband shark meat. (Image courtesy of Fisheries Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Taiwan authorities seized over 30 tones of illegal shark meat at Kaohsiung Xiagang Fishing Harbor (高雄小港漁港) on Sept. 5, the Fisheries Agency (漁業署) said in a statement yesterday.

The seizure is the biggest haul since revised offshore fishing rules entered into force in 2006, according to the Fisheries Agency.

Fishing of silky shark is banned by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, which led Taiwan to do the same.

30 tons of silky shark (carcharhinus falciformis) meat was seized during an inspection of a small fishing boat named "Jin-chang 6" (金昌6號). The boat came under suspicion after authorities noted the vessel made unscheduled stops in two other fishing ports.

The suspicious catch was confirmed to be that of the banned silky shark days later, after a positive DNA test, which led the contents of the boat to be seized on Sept. 13.

The Fishery Agency said that according to relevant regulation, the boat operators face of a fine of between NT$2-10 million (US$65,000-325,000), and potential revocation of fishing licenses.

The Fisheries Agency urges the public to not catch illegal aquatic animals, adding it has set up a 24-hour monitoring center to tackle illegal fishing.

Although some forms of shark are legal to eat in Taiwan, the practice has gained increasing opposition from environmental groups. According to a recent survey by the WildAid and Life Conservationist Association found 76 percent of Taiwanese people surveyed had eaten shark fin soup in the past three years, but only 32 percent within the last year.