Chinese couple fined US$1,500 for cooking endangered naked carp for their parents

  • Pair cause a social media storm after uploading footage of themselves preparing the protected species for a special meal
  • Naked carp, so named because they have almost no scales, are endemic to the saltwater Qinghai Lake, the largest in China
PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 January, 2019, 4:10pm
UPDATED : Friday, 11 January, 2019, 11:19pm

A couple from northwest China who decided to treat their parents to a home-cooked meal found themselves in hot water recently after their choice of main course turned out to be a rare and protected species of fish.

The problem started when the pair from Qinghai province filmed themselves preparing the naked carp (Gymnocypris przewalskii) and uploaded the footage to social media, state broadcaster CCTV reported on Friday.

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Eagle-eyed internet users quickly spotted the couple’s mistake and wasted no time in berating them. Their collective outpouring of anger caught the attention of local authorities and the pair found themselves being visited by police from the Qinghai Lake National Nature Reserve.

Naked carp, which get their name from the fact they have almost no scales, migrate annually from the freshwater rivers where they spawn to the saltwater Lake Qinghai, the largest in China.

Although their numbers have been growing steadily – from about 2,600 tonnes in 2002 to 88,000 tonnes in November – the fish are still classed as endangered on the China Species Red List after years of overfishing and loss of habitat.

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Because of its protected status the couple were fined 10,000 yuan (US$1,500) under China’s Wildlife Protection Law, the report said.

It did not say how the couple came by the fish, but the wife, identified only as Song, said her husband, who was not named, bought them.

Despite the hostile reaction the couple’s video received online, the response to the CCTV report was more supportive.

“[Naked carp] is super delicious. As a Qinghai resident, I used to eat it. Will they fine me 10,000 yuan because of this comment?” one person wrote.

“They bought the fish from others. They might not have known what kind it was. Why did they not punish the person who sold it to them?” asked another.

The couple are not the first to fall foul of China’s wildlife protection laws.

In November, a man was given five months’ detention and fined almost 12,000 yuan after being caught fishing for naked carp, while a month earlier a man from Xining, the capital of Qinghai, was fined 7,000 yuan for posting a video of himself cooking the fish.