Customs officials yesterday found protected species in a shipment of frozen fish imported from Indonesia. The shipment had been declared to contain blackspot tuskfish (Choerodon schoenleinii), also known as green wrasse, ‘and other parrot fish’.
When inspected, the shipment was found to include 23 green humphead parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum), with a total weight of 80kg. The species is protected under Taiwan’s wildlife protection laws, and is banned from export or import.
When told the shipment violated the law, a representative of the company importing the fish said he didn’t know it was a protected species. He said that the fish had little value in Indonesia and was cheap to buy there, but he had heard it was sought after by Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan. He therefore tried to import a few to ‘test the waters’.
Taiwan’s new Democratic Progressive Party government is working hard to stave off a ‘red card’ penalty after the country was issued a ‘yellow card’ by the European Union in October 2015.
A ‘red card’ could see Taiwan’s valuable seafood industry hit by sanctions in not only in the European Union, but also in Japan and the United States.
In April 2016, Greenpeace released a scathing report on Taiwan’s fishing industry in which it accused the government of Taiwan of “attempting to avoid dealing with systemic problems by treating each event as an isolated incident caused by the actions of an individual captain, or company, and that as a result, Taiwan has failed to live up to the global standards expected in today’s global marketplace.”