Promotion and Planning of the Measure on “Shark’s Fins Naturally Attached”
Taiwan has many fishing vessels, and vessels which preserve their shark catches by freezing, remain operations in overseas fishing grounds for long period of time. As such, in promoting educational training on the measure of “Shark’s Fins Naturally Attached”, fishing vessels were divided into three categories: fishing vessels using ice to preserve shark catches, fishing vessels over 100 GRT preserving shark catches by freezing, and fishing vessels over 100 GRT preserving shark catches by freezing. For the two latter types of vessels, before enforcement of the measure officially came into place, a transitional time was allowed, during which the measure of “5% fin to carcass ratio on shark catches” or “tying fins on the shark carcass” was applicable, to facilitate policy promotion and enforcement. In addition, for sharks caught in the waters under auspices of the respective regional fisheries management organizations, and were landed in foreign ports, the measures adopted by the respective fisheries management organizations were to be complied with.
Reason for Promoting the Measure on “Shark’s Fins Naturally Attached”
Sharks are one of the top predators in the marine ecosystems. They play a crucial role in maintaining a natural balance in the marine food chain. The current conservation and management measures on sharks taken by the international fisheries management organizations include banning the catch of shark species with declining population, and requirement of maintaining 5% fin to carcass ratio on shark catches at time of landing. However, the measure of 5% fin to carcass ratio is not able to rid the concern of possible shark finning as well as to ensure sustainable use of shark resources. Countries, such as the United States, Costa Rica, Panama, El Salvador, Columbia, and Chile had pioneered the promotion of the measure of Shark’s fin naturally attached.
In addition, other countries and territories, such as Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Northern Mariana, and Guam, had established shark protected areas, banning catching, retaining, and selling of sharks. Many states and cities in the US and Canada had also passed legislations to ban selling, trading and retaining of shark’s fins. In view of the high international concerns on the issue of conservation of sharks, it was likely that catching of sharks could be totally banned if effective conservation and management measures such as “Shark’s fin naturally attached” were not taken.
As a fishing country, Taiwan has been striving to conserve shark resources. However, there was publicity from international media describing Taiwan was the accomplice behind for the overfishing of sharks. Promotion of the measure of “Shark’s fin naturally attached” not only could avoid international stigmatization of Taiwanese fishing vessels, but could also meet the prevailing international trend of shark conservation. It was envisaged that through more stringent management measures, sustainability of shark resources could be achieved, while ensuring the fishing right of the fishermen.
The Fisheries Agency called upon the general public to support the measure on Shark’s fin naturally attached. The regulations were enacted and promulgated on 19 January 2012, for progressive implementation.