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April 29, 2017

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Man behind famous fish's death comes forward to face the music

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A tackle shop owner claimed responsibility yesterday for accidentally reeling in Ah Niu (阿牛), a giant trevally famed in the waters of Kenting's Houbihu conservation area, telling local media he sold the celebrity sea creature for NT$2,380.

The business owner, who identified himself only as "Ah Di," told local media that he had caught many giant trevallies in the region.

On the market, they are not considered a "very delicious fish," and so the 34-kilogram Ah Niu was sold for only NT$70 per kg, he said.

The death of the beloved fish garnered widespread attention after videos and photos were posted online showing it being reeled in last Thursday.

According to a diver in the area, Tsai Yung-chuen (蔡永春), while giant trevallies were not uncommon around the area, Ah Niu was special in that it had been friendly toward divers since appearing in the waters two years ago.

Tsai said giant trevallies were migration fish but that Ah Niu and three other giant trevallies ended up staying in the Kenting waters.

Ah Niu was known to regularly swim among divers, many of whom would return to the area to greet the fish.

Another diver of the area said Ah Niu and the other three giant trevallies had brought over NT$20 million in business opportunities in the last 2 years, creating 50 new diving related shops and job opportunities for 150 diving instructors.

After news of the fish's death broke, local media outlet Apple Daily tracked down the person in the photos. According to the Pingtung County Government, Ah Di had violated Item 4 Article 18 of the Fishing Port Act and would be subject to a fine of between NT$30,000 and NT$150,000.

The culprit who reeled in Ah Niu was identified in local media by the nickname Ah Di.

Speaking with reporters yesterday, Ah Di apologized for illegally fishing at a conservation area, but remained unapologetic for capturing the celebrity fish.

During the interview, Ah Di said that as an owner of a fishing equipment store in Pingtung City, he was aware that he had broken the law.

But in his defense, he said, he had not intended to catch the protected fish.

Ah Di said that he was at the area for an advertisement photoshoot for his merchandise and had inadvertently caught Ah Niu while a photo was being taken of a bait product that was cast into the water.

After about five minutes of struggle, Ah Di reeled in the fish. He said he didn't throw it back because it would have died anyway.

The Price of Ah Niu's Life? NT$2,380

According to Ah Di, the fish was then sold for NT$2,380.

He also refused to apologize for killing the fish, saying that fishing was as much a pastime as diving, and that giant travellies were not a protected species.

According to the Pingtung County Government, Ah Di had violated Item 4 Article 18 of the Fishing Port Act and is subject to a fine between NT$30,000 to NT$150,000.

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