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Taiwan fishermen to be asked to bring in sharks intact

2011/07/10 19:41:32

Taipei, July 10 (CNA) Taiwan will next year become the first Asian country to ban fishermen from bringing in dismembered sharks, as part of efforts to prevent finning, a local report said Sunday.

Taiwan's Fisheries Agency (FA) under the Council of Agriculture expects to implement a new regulation to force fishermen to keep shark catches intact until they arrive in port, with violators set to face fines or suspension of their fishing licenses.

Taiwan will be the first country in Asia to do so, said Sha Chih-yi, director general of the agency.

Finning is the practice of cutting the fins off sharks and throwing the animals back into the sea to die, as the fins are an expensive delicacy, while the rest of the fish is basically worthless in comparison.

Sha was also quoted by the United Evening News as saying that the United States and Costa Rica have both adopted this rule.

The agency will amend the regulations for fishing operations in the Pacific, the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean according to the Fishery Laws, and implement the new rule next year at the earliest.

The agency has dispatched more than 30 officials to major ports around the country to raise awareness of the new law.

However, the fishing industry has claimed that the change will affect the freshness of catches and decrease profits.

According to Lin Yueh-ying, head of a fisherman's association in Suao, a major fishing port in northeastern Yilan County, fishermen currently dismember sharks at sea and pack the parts separately, which she said keeps catches fresher and allows for better prices.

Intact shark bodies take up too much space and will therefore decrease the amount of catch that can be transported by about 20 percent, said Lin, adding that the price of shark fin is expected to increase once the law is implemented.

However, in the eyes of conservation groups, finning is cruel and against the balance of the environment.

Chen Yu-min, an official of the Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan, welcomed the new law.

(By Jamie Wang)
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