What you need to know
Shark finning has been a critical global issue, especially for countries in the Pacific Ocean, such as Taiwan and Japan. Despite the efforts made by Taiwan to prevent excessive shark finning, a huge amount of bodies of sharks with their fins cut off was found under a bridge in Hsinchu, triggering the anger of the public.
Translated by Shin-wei Chang
A picture of bodies of sharks was posted on Facebook on February 3. According to the person who posted the photo, it was taken when he passed by the Juigang Bridge with a friend in Hsinchu. They found that there were a lot of bodies of young sharks piled on the ground. The youngest one did not even reach 30 cm, and the bodies were already giving out rotting odor. Many people have since shared the post, and most of them call for boycotting shark fins for the coming Chinese New Year.
Officials of Coast Guard Administration received complaints and went the scene to investigate, finding that young sharks had been deserted there for at least a day. According to the investigators, although none of the sharks were protected species, cutting the fins from the bodies has already violated the regulations of shark finning, which might lead to a maximum fine of NT$150 thousand dollars (approximately US$4,500).
Tung Chin-chieh, executive director of Hsinchu District Fishermen’s Association of Hsinchu City, says that all body parts of a shark have a lot of economic value, no matter what age the shark is. However, the skin of the sharks was flat and seemingly dehydrated. Their eyes were blurry, which were signs of being thawed. As a result, Tung suggests that the flesh was no longer fresh, and that was the possible reason only the fins were cut off.
Tung also assumes that the fishermen in the region did not commit the crime. He is browsing through surveillance camera recordings, hoping to bring the culprits to justice.
Taiwan is the fourth largest country in shark fishing. In order to prevent the fishermen from throwing the bodies of sharks back into the ocean, the Fisheries Agency amended the law four years ago. Originally, it regulated that the weight of the shark fin is forbidden to be more than 5% of the weight of its whole body. After the amendment, fishermen are no longer allowed to cut off the fins from the body of sharks, making Taiwan the first Asian country to apply this strict rule on shark fishing.
In September 2015, the Green Peace Organization caught a Taiwanese fishing boat, “Shuen De Ching No. 888,” cutting off fins from sharks and throwing their bodies back into the sea. This raised attention from all over the world, and the European Union even issued Taiwan a yellow card warning.
Edited by Olivia Yang