TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A Philippine migrant worker has been prosecuted for touching a sea turtle at Liuqiu (Lambai Island) off southwestern Taiwan.
The 45-year-old man from the Philippines was arrested on Saturday (Oct. 3) for forcefully grabbing a sea turtle in the Huapingyan (花瓶岩岸) area of the offshore coral reef island, according to the Coast Guard Administration, which acted on a tip from tourists.
The suspect, who traveled to the attraction with friends during the Mid-Autumn Festival holiday, has admitted to the offense stipulated by Article 18 of the Wildlife Conservation Act, which outlaws acts of disturbing, abusing, hunting, or killing protected wildlife.
He now faces up to a year's imprisonment and/or a fine of between NT$60,000 (US$2,083) and NT$300,000. Violators can be subject to a two-year sentence and/or a fine of up to NT$500,000 should their conduct result in the death of protected species, pursuant to the Act.
Liuqiu, administered as a township of Pingtung County, is a famed habitat for marine turtles in Taiwan. It has reported 10 incidents this year of visitors coming into contact with the animals, despite rigorous warnings from the authorities and travel businesses.
The Ocean Affairs Council has pleaded with visitors not to touch, disturb, or feed the turtles.