Rarely seen megamouth shark caught off E. Taiwan, sold for meat

Rare megamouth shark caught off coast of Hualien, Taiwan, sold for seafood


TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- A rare megamouth shark (Megachasma pelagios) was caught off the coast of eastern Taiwan early yesterday morning and after samples were taken for science, the leviathan was sold for a large sum for seafood.

The rare shark was caught off the coast of Hualien Port at 6:10 a.m. by the fishing vessel Hsin Sheng Pao 36 (鑫昇寶36) on Monday morning (May 6), reported Liberty Times. When the massive sea creature was brought in to Hualien Port for measurement, it was found to be 3.5 meters long and weighed 612 kilograms.

As per the mandatory catch-and-report measurement implemented by the Fisheries Agency (FA) in 2013, the fisherman notified the FA of the shark's capture and stored it for 24 hours, according to the Coast Guard Administration (CGA). After samples were taken by scientists, the shark was sold to a seafood restaurant in Yilan County's Nanfang'ao for NT$61,200 (US$1,979), reported Apple Daily.

Liu Shang-yin (劉商隱), a professor in the Department of Marine Biotechnology and Resources at National Sun Yat-sen University, said that, "The number of megamouth sharks is less than that of whale sharks." Liu said that although the government has banned the fishing of the whale shark, there are not comparable regulations protecting the megamouth shark, and he calls on the government to take action and pass legislation against fishing for the rare creature.

(Coast Guard Administration photo)

Liu said that the megamouth is a filter feeding fish, which is not dangerous to humans. From 1976 to 2017, there have only been 99 sightings of the obscure shark, most of which were cases of capture by fishermen.

Most of the world's sightings have occurred along the Kuroshio Current near Japan and Taiwan at 74 percent. Taiwan accounts for nearly half of the world's sightings at 45.

A fisherman identified as A Hao (阿豪) told Apple Daily that the fishermen were following the law, and after catching the shark, reported it to the authorities. He lamented that fish are getting harder and harder to catch and "They did not break the law. Should they have to go hungry?"

However, environmental group Kuroshio Ocean Education Foundation (黑潮海洋文教基金會) says that such giant sharks are not the main source of fishermen's income. The organization said the current law is inadequate and called on the government to swiftly impose a ban on catching megamouths to protect the species, reported CNA.

(Coast Guard Administration photo

(Coast Guard Administration photo)