Feeding fish has become a finable offense at the Fushan Fisheries Resources Conservation Area (富山漁業資源保育區) in Taitung County’s Beinan Township (卑南), a conservationist said on Monday.
Feeding fish was a big attraction for area visitors, but a ban was last month introduced and from January next year, offenders would face a fine of NT$2,000 to NT$10,000, conservationist Chen Chih-ho (陳志和) said.
Twenty years ago, locals developed the tourist spot — which is home to abundant coral, a refuge for the fish — where visitors could walk among the fish and feed them bread crumbs.
Photo: Chen Hisien-yi, Taipei Times
Concern over the effects of feeding the fish bread led the conservation area to begin selling a seaweed-based snack for the fish, but conservationists found that the new food caused a spike in the fish population — producing an imbalance in the ecosystem — and the practice was dropped.
However, some visitors brought fish food purchased elsewhere and continued to feed them.
“As early as two years ago, we began telling visitors that feeding the fish was prohibited, but we only encouraged people to comply — the rule was not strictly enforced,” Chen said.
Photo: Huang Ming-tang, Taipei Times
In August, the conservation area management decided that it needed to monitor visitors, enforce the ban and fine offenders, he said.
“The fines are heavy — to avoid fining people next year, we started announcing the new regulation in September,” he said.
As many nearby stores sell fish food, the conservation area has advised them to sell food that the visitors can eat, so their revenue is not affected, he said.
“There is a diversity of marine life along the coast, including shrimp, crabs and other creatures, and we want to protect that,” Chen said. “We want to keep a balance in the ecosystem.”
In Taitung’s Daren Township (達仁), Anshuo Village (安朔), officials have warned people that they could face heavy fines if they litter.
A village waterfall has become a tourist hot spot after news of it spread online, but villagers were left frustrated after visitors left piles of garbage during the Mid-Autumn Festival long weekend.
Aside from being disrespectful, the waste affects the ecosystem of the area surrounding the waterfall, a village official said, adding that villagers would begin patrolling the conservation area.
Additional reporting by Chen Hsien-yi
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