TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's government on Tuesday (Nov. 10) announced a ban on the catching of great white sharks, megamouth sharks, and basking sharks with violators facing a fine of up to NT$150,000.
The Council of Agriculture (COA) Fisheries Agency on Tuesday stated that effective that day, the catching of great white sharks, megamouth sharks, and basking sharks will be prohibited. Whether dead or alive, if the fish are not immediately returned to the ocean, fishermen will face criminal prosecution.
Environment & Animal Society of Taiwan (EAST, 台灣動物社會研究會), which has been advocating for the ban for many years, welcomed the move and expressed hope that the Ocean Conservation Administration will designate the sharks as a protected species. In July of this year, the Fisheries Agency announced that it would impose such a ban, but it took four months of opinion gathering, multi-party communication, and evaluations to come to Tuesday's decision.
There are four components to the new law:
- The fishing of great white sharks, megamouth sharks, and basking sharks is prohibited. Any fish caught, whether dead or alive, must be returned to the sea immediately.
- A notification form stating that the "accidental catch" had taken place is required and must be submitted to authorities.
- Those who catch these species without immediately returning them to the sea will be sentenced to up to three years in prison and face a maximum fine of up to NT$150,000.
- Fishermen and fishery workers who fail to notify authorities of the catch will face fines of between NT$30,000 and NT$150,000. However, research can still legally catch the three types of sharks for teaching or scientific studies.
In 2013, the Fisheries Agency began requiring fishing vessels to report the capture of great white sharks, megamouth sharks, and basking sharks, and retain the whole carcass for 24 hours for scientific sampling and biological data collection. From 2013 to now, there have been reported catches of 34 great white sharks, 139 megamouth sharks, and 0 basking sharks.
Since 1976, there have only been about 226 sightings of the obscure megamouth shark, most of which were cases of capture by fishermen. The majority of sightings have occurred along the Kuroshio Current, with 146 captured off of Taiwan, accounting for 64 percent of total catches reported in the world.