China gets a bad press for its attitudes to marine life, but officials were quick to take action when video of a whale shark being driven through urban streets on the back of a pick-up truck was released online earlier this week (5 September).
An outcry followed via China’s Twitter equivalent Weibo, and a man has now been arrested.
The brief footage from Pear Video showed what was reported to be a fisherman driving to a hotel in the town of Sanshazhen in Xiapu, a coastal region on the East China Sea.
He is said to have tried to sell the whale shark to be served in the hotel restaurant – only for his offer to be declined on the grounds that the illegal catch smelt too bad to be edible.
The animal is then shown being cut up with a saw by a group of men, in an attempt to make it easier to sell.
Chinese law offers whale sharks a measure of protection by stipulating that they cannot be sold or purchased as meat and should be freed immediately if caught.
The regional fisheries department responded to complaints online and enlisted local police to investigate, leading to the arrest of a man said to have been caught trying to sell whale-shark parts.
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