The whale shark now has more friends in Taiwan and fewer enemies.
January 1st, 2008 will be the day the Taiwanese will put into effect a total ban on the hunting and selling of whale sharks, and whale shark meat. The ban also includes the export of whale sharks to aquariums around the world.
The Georgia Aquarium is negotiating with the Taiwanese government to acquire two more whale sharks before the ban takes effect. Taiwanese officials are reluctant to approve the sale of the two whale sharks until they learn more about the death of Ralph, a male whale shark which died in January at the hands of the Georgia Aquarium staff.
The ban recognizes “world opinion” as well as domestic concerns about the world’s largest fish, said Chu Yung-cheng, another fisheries department spokesman.
“Many Taiwanese have developed a sense of environmental protection,” Chu said.
The ban means no more whale shark meat will be on Taiwanese grocery store shelves, or on restaurant menus. This, according to restaurant owners isnâ€™t going to hurt their business, as dishes containing whale shark meat arenâ€™t as popular as they once were.
“Now, more Taiwanese want to protect the environment,” said restaurant manager Kuo Yaoming.
This is good news from Taiwan! Hopefully because of Taiwanâ€™s close proximity, China will get the message and follow suit.