Taiwan’s Fisheries Agency announced that a ban on catching great white, basking, and megamouth sharks went into effect today, November 10, after a 60-day notification period for objections to an amended law passed the threshold.
The proposed ban was put forward in July this year after a series of controversial catches raised concerns of conservation groups, who have long called for the ban.
In a four-day period between June 15 and June 18 this year, six rare megamouth sharks were caught in fishing nets off the coast of Hualien County on Taiwan’s east coast, raising concern among local environmental groups that the fish were not merely being caught as bycatch.
[See previous story: Six megamouth sharks caught in four days: conservation groups call for catch ban ]
Previous to the current ban, fishers were allowed to keep the giant sharks, which were assumed to be bycatch, but had to report the catch via a notification system, allowing 24 hours for researchers to have the option of examining the sharks to collect relevant data before the catch could be sold.
Now that the ban is in place, fishers will still be required to notify authorities about the time and location of the catch, along with information about fishing method, size of the shark, and other basic data, but will have to return the shark to the ocean, dead or alive, and will not be able to keep, or sell the catch.
The ban was instigated with an amendment to the Catch Control Measures for Great White Shark and Megamouth Shark, and announced by the Fisheries Agency of the Council of Agriculture at a meeting of the Executive Yuan today.
[See previous story: Big, pregnant great white shark caught off Taiwan’s north-east coast ]
Those who catch one of the three species but fail to release them in accordance with the regulations shall be subject to a fine of a minimum NT$30,000 to a maximum NT$150,000, or a fixed term of imprisonment to a maximum of three years.
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