Lanyu Locals Unknowingly Prep Endangered Fish

Lanyu Locals Unknowingly Prep Endangered Fish
Photo Credit:RT/ 達志影像

What you need to know

Some residents of Taiwan's Lanyu were caught preparing to cook an endangered fish. But are they to blame?

On July 2, the Taiwan Coast Guard caught a group of locals from the outlying island of Lanyu (Orchid Island) who were scaling and preparing to cook what turned out to be an endangered fish of Taiwan.

The locals said they found the dead fish, a green humphead parrotfish, washed up on the beach at around noon and immediately informed the police and the Lanyu Township Office.

The police couldn’t confirm whether the fish was an endangered species, so they contacted the Coast Guard Administration, which later arrived at the scene. The coast guards didn’t inform the locals the fish was endangered and left after taking some photos.

The group, therefore, took the 55 kg fish ashore and started preparing to cook it. They had just finished scaling the fish when authorities returned and said it was an endangered species - fewer than 30 green humphead parrotfish are left in Taiwan.

On July 3, the fish was sent to the Taitung County Agriculture Department to be frozen and stored for a cause-of-death investigation. After examination, the Taitung District Prosecutors Office said there were no external injuries on the body of the fish or signs that the fish was hunted.

A primary investigation concluded that no illegal activities were involved in the death of the fish.

The green humphead parrotfish was added to Taiwan’s list of endangered species in 2014 along with the humphead wrasse. Thousands of both fish used to be found in coral reefs around Kenting, Ludao (Green Island), and Lanyu, but the number of both species has gone down to less than 30 in the past four decades. This is due to the long-term hunting and consumption of the fish. Those who are caught illegally capturing either species of fish face fines of up to NT$1.5 million (US$47,000).

The recent green humphead parrotfish incident follows that of a bed and breakfast owner in Ludao who illegally killed a humphead wrasse with a spear gun in May. The owner even took a photo of the fish lying on a chopping board and lied about the image being an old one taken seven years ago, but was called out by netizens.

For killing one of the seven existing humphead wrasse in the region, the owner had to make NT$50,000 bail and faces up to five years imprisonment and a maximum fine of NT$1 million.

First Editor: J. Michael Cole
Second Editor: Edward White