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EPA head criticized for eating shark fins

2017/04/10 19:23:04

Taipei, April 10 (CNA) Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) Minister Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) was criticized for setting a bad example by eating shark fins at an extravagant lunch on Sunday in Taipei.

Lee was seen in a Facebook post by media pundit Tsai Han-hsun (蔡漢勳), also known as Wen Shen (溫紳), dining with friends, including Tsai, with a bowl of shark fin soup on the table in front of him.

Although the post celebrated the lavish lunch, the minister was criticized by environmental protection groups on Monday.

Taiwan Treehugger Alliance founder Angela Chang (張美惠) criticized Lee on her FB page for entertaining friends with shark fins while she and other environmentalists refrain from eating shark fins or whitebait to protect the ecological balance of the oceans.

Asked by reporters about the lunch, Lee admitted he did eat the dish but said he was not the host and it was already on the table when he arrived at the event 20 minutes late.

Despite being initially hesitant, Lin ate the shark fin soup, but after the criticism accepted that he "needs to be more vigilant."

In the future, neither he nor his family will eat shark fins again, the minister pledged.

Kuroshio Ocean Education Foundation chief executive Chang Hui-chun (張卉君) said shark fins are a controversial dish.

To protect the eco-balance of the oceans, Taiwan has enacted a law that bans the removal of shark's fins at sea, forcing fishing boats to bring any sharks caught to shore before removing the fins and thereby indirectly controlling the number caught, Chang said.

Many environmental groups, including her own, have worked tirelessly to dissuade people from eating shark fins at celebratory events, she said.

However, the fact that Taiwan's environmental protection minister had no compunction about eating shark fins indicates the enormity of the challenges ahead for those campaigning to protect marine resources and the fact that it has yet to become a mainstream idea in Taiwanese society, Chang said.

(By Wu Hsin-yun and Elizabeth Hsu)