What do you make of this story?
A divemaster in Taiwan who killed an eagle ray has been sentenced to 6 months in prison. It is not a suspended sentence or one with the possibility of parole probation or early release. He will spend the full 6 months in prison for his crime.
Too harsh? A fair application of the law? Not harsh enough?
Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph N Camacho handed down the sentence to Hu jie Fang, 27, a Chinese national .
He ordered that Fang be taken to the Department of Corrections to start serving his sentence.
The spear-gun offence took place at a popular dive site “Ice Cream Point” in an area known as “Eagle Ray City” off Saipan. The eponymous creatures are known to gather there in large numbers. Camacho described the power of a single photo taken by a tourist diving in the area to saying “each photo taken home with the tourist is free advertising showing the great beauty and grand scale of aquatic life”. He added that the ecotourism potential of the area “should be nurtured, protected, and grown.”
Prosecuting attorney James B. McAllister pressed for the maximum sentence on the basis that “ a strong message must be sent to preserve ecotourism and to ensure that Fang and other divers will not poach spotted eagle rays or other protected species in the future.”
Fang’s defence that he was not aware of the illegality of his act was undermined by testimony that he was heard to request others in his dive group not to take any photographs because killing eagle rays there was illegal.
6 months was the maximum possible penalty permitted under the law and Camacho had no hesitation in imposing a sentence he compared to much lesser violations. “The court can only surmise that in its collective wisdom the Legislature has mandated that the penalty for killing an eagle ray is equivalent to not having mud flaps on vehicles,” he said.
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