CCTV had this to say about the controversial catch:
Mistakenly caught dead endangered species; on no terms are you to do this on you own. You will be sentenced to prison!
Today, Fujian fishermen caught and landed a two-ton whale shark. At the time the whale shark was caught, it was already dead. Whale sharks are a species protected in the Xiamen Ocean Valuable Animal Sanctuary. Police authorities say, whale sharks are classified as category two national endangered species. When the fishermen caught this animal, they suspected it to be an endangered species and reported it to police. No matter dead or alive, profiting or use of this animal by private individuals is expressly forbidden, otherwise violators may be punished by up to five years in prison. (CCTV reporter Shi Jinbin)
As the use of an endangered species in China is illegal, we can only assume that the meat of this whale shark is being kept fresh with ice for some other reason other than consumption. After all, no one is interested in a fish that was dead when it was captured, right?
It’s unclear what the law says if people catch an endangered animal that is already dead, but if it was still alive at the time of capture these fishermen would be going to jail.