Fishermen blame dolphins for declining fish numbers

The head of the Hualien Fishermen’s Association claimed yesterday that “over-protection of dolphins” is to partly blame for reduced catches by fishermen in the eastern Taiwan county.

“Fishermen are often annoyed to find that fish caught on their long-line hooks have only the heads remaining,” he said, attributing this to the work of dolphins.“Fishermen can do nothing to prevent dolphins from stealing their catches as they are protected under existing government policy,” Wang went on.

Wang also described the government’s efforts to urge fishermen to shift to “dolphin watching” tourism as “impractical,” as most fishermen are not equipped, either financially or technically, for the newly emerging leisure business.

“Most fishermen respect the idea of dolphin protection initiated by environmentalists, but the government should also pay greater attention to the problem of over-populations of dolphins, as they are a threat not only to fishermen’s livelihoods but also to other marine lives,” he said.

Wang made the remarks in the wake of a Taiwan-Japan seminar on fishery cooperation in Hualien a day earlier, during which an expert said the number of fishing boats in Hualien has decreased to 400 from some 600 about 12 years ago, while total fish catches have also declined significantly during the period.

Wang said that not only Hualien but other fishing ports around the country have also suffered reduced fishing boat numbers and fish catches. He said unstable weather and warmer sea temperatures can also be attributed to the difficulties faced by fishermen.

The Taiwan Cetacean Society declined to comment on Wang’s views on dolphins.

Source: The China Post

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