Fishermen strongly oppose proposal to ban trawling
Central News Agency
2014-06-23 10:37 PM
Taipei, June 23 (CNA) Several hundred fishermen from around Taiwan voiced strong opposition on Monday to a proposal by lawmakers to ban trawling in coastal and offshore sea areas, arguing that it would hurt more than 100,000 people who rely on fishing to make a living. Chiang Hsin-lun, a fisherman from Yilan County, said at a public hearing on the proposal by the Fisheries Agency in Taipei that there are around 15,000 trawlers in Taiwan that operate in offshore waters and waters off coasts. Seventy percent of what those fishermen catch is sold to the aquaculture industry as feed, and the rest of their catch is for culinary use and accounts for 50 percent to 60 percent of the fish sold in traditional markets, Chiang said. Banning trawling would hurt the livelihoods of 100,000 people working in the sector, an impact that would be "massive," the fisherman warned. Trawling involves dragging nets behind a boat and catching everything that comes in contact with the nets. Environmentalists oppose the practice because it is not selective -- much of the catch are not species that were targeted. Bottom trawling, in which the net is dragged along the floor of the ocean, is considered particularly damaging to the seafloor and the marine ecosystem. Some fishermen tried to fight the proposed ban in a more positive way by suggesting the introduction of a fishing moratorium. "Trawling is seasonal. They do not do that all year round," a participating fisherman said. The public hearing, hosted by Fisheries Agency Deputy Director-General Chen Jyun-ru, took place after lawmakers on the Legislature's Economics Committee asked the government to study the feasibility of banning trawling to promote resource sustainability. Also attending the event were representatives of environmental groups, including Greenpeace and the Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan. According to the agency, trawlers are seen in waters off coasts that stretch from northeastern Taiwan westward and southward to Pingtung County. The coastal and offshore trawlers generate NT$3.95 billion (US$132 million) in annual revenues, accounting for only 4 percent of the national fishery output of NT$100 billion, the agency said. But trawlers still have a huge economic impact because they are mostly run by family businesses. (By Yang Shu-min and Elizabeth Hsu)
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