Taipei, A rarely seen megamouth shark, known for its rubbery lips, large head and gigantic mouth as the name implies, was caught by a Taiwanese fishing boat off Hualien Port Monday, brought to the port for scientific research, and then sold as seafood.
The 3.5meter, 612kilogram shark was already dead when it was taken from the water, the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) said, quoting the owner of the fishing boat. Based on the mandatory catchandreport measurement implemented by the Fisheries Agency (FA) in 2013, the shark was immediately reported to the FA and experts at National Taiwan Ocean University, the CGA said.
Tissue samples from the shark were collected before it was processed and sold.
According to the Apple Daily newspaper, the shark was taken to the northeastern county of Yilan, where it was sold to a seafood restaurant for NT$61,200 (US$1,978).
The megamouth shark is a filterfeeder that swims with its enormous mouth wide open, filtering water for tiny plankton and jellyfish.
The species is rarely spotted by humans and fewer than 100 specimens have been observed or caught since it was first reported in 1976, according to research published in 2018 in the biological journal PeerJ by Taiwanese scholars.
The region along the Kuroshio Current, including Taiwan, Japan and the Philippines, is where the megamouth shark is most frequently found, according to the study.
Despite being seldom encountered, the megamouth shark is not protected by Taiwanese regulations, and commercial fishing of the species is allowed.
Liu Shangyin one of the study's researchers, said Monday that the government needs to better protect large and rare fish species such as the megamouth shark.
The environmental group Kuroshio Ocean Education Foundation went further, saying that the FA's mandatory catchandreport measure is only a nominal rule and that a ban on catching the species is necessary.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel