The Ocean Conservation Administration (OCA) yesterday said that the Japanese aquarium Xpark, which is to open next week in Taoyuan, had applied and received approval to legally import 91 marine species, in response to public concern over where it is sourcing the animals.
The first branch outside Japan the Yokohama Hakkeijima Sea Paradise, the Xpark is operated by Taiwan Yokohama Hakkeijima Inc and is set to open in Jhongli District (中壢) on Friday next week.
The aquarium is to feature hammerhead sharks, leopard sharks, stingrays, jellyfish, penguins, seals and sea lions, among others, the company said.
Photo: Lee Jung-ping, Taipei Times
While some aquariums feature whale sharks, the agency in June listed whale sharks, eagles and mobulid rays as endangered and first-class protected species.
Several people have called the agency to ask where the marine animals are coming from, Marine Conservation Division senior specialist Ko Yung-chuan (柯勇全) said yesterday, after the agency issued a news release saying the company had made the requisite applications.
The aquarium has since December last year successively applied for the imports of living species, the agency said, adding that it finally approved the imports of 91 species from Japan.
Photo: Lee Jung-ping, Taipei Times
Among them, 55 were first shipped to Taiwan, for which the agency had invited outside experts to review the company’s application and gave its approval after confirming the cultivation environment and use of the species, it said.
The agency did not approve the import of mussels, an invasive species to Taiwan, it added.
The company was planning to import Inca terns, but dropped the plan after the agency said it would have to inspect if the birds have sufficient space for survival in the park, Ko said.
The list of approved animals does not include any legally protected species, he said.
The agency does not know the total number of species that the park is planning to exhibit, as it only dealt with applications for imported species, he said, adding that the company might procure some species that can be found in Taiwan.
The Wildlife Conservation Act (野生動物保育法) states that people caught importing protected species or their products may face a prison term of six months to five years or a fine of NT$300,000 to NT$1.5 million (US$10,160 to US$50,844), the agency said, urging people to protect marine life.
Additional reporting by CNA
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