A fishing captain from New Taipei surnamed Lin (林) has been charged with smuggling after customs officials suspect that the amount of bait used caught an insufficient amount of fish.
Mr. Lin purchased 71,069 kg of saury to be used as bait six years ago, Liberty Times reported. When he returned to port six days later, he had used all the bait and only caught 1830 kg of fish. That equals 1 kg of catch for every 40 kg of bait.
Taiwan Customs Administration officials were suspicious of the ineffectiveness of the bait and fined Lin more than NT$2.92 million (US$95,365). The Taipei High Administrative Court upheld the fine.
The decision noted that after declaring the saury purchased at the port to Taiwan authorities, Lin returned six days later with his catch. In that time, he had used all of the saury and only managed to catch 1830 kg of fish. The only explanation authorities could see for such ineffectiveness is smuggling.
Customs officials said that after purchasing the saury in 2012, Lin did not pickle the bait as is the standard procedure. He also claimed to be trawling cages on his way out of the port, but officials note that trawlers don’t require bait. An investigation found that the cages were rusty and did not have a bait box.
Lin appealed the fine, claiming that the case was based solely on speculation. The court, however, ruled that the difference between the amount of bait and the catch was too great to be a coincidence.
The decision also noted that the container in which the saury was stored when purchased disappeared before Lin returned to port. Under normal operating procedure, the container would remain on the boat.