[Photo Story]: Preserving Taiwan's Fisheries Through Sound and Images

[Photo Story]: Preserving Taiwan's Fisheries Through Sound and Images
Photo Credit: Sustainable of ocean

What you need to know

Seven Taiwanese college students are calling for the preservation of 13 traditional fishing techniques in Taiwan with a new documentary photo series.

More than 70% of the fish consumed in Taiwan are caught via fishing methods that are harmful to the environment. Light penalties have led to a reckless fishing industry and languishing fishery resources.

Now seven college students are trying to change this through words, sounds and images with a new project called Sustainable of ocean.

The group of seniors from Taipei College of Maritime Technology started paying attention to destructive fishing methods after visiting the Greenpeace website more than 18 months ago. They were inspired to focus their school graduation project on the issue.

After 18 months filming traditional fishing methods in seven fishing villages from Huanggang Fishing Harbor in Jinshan (金山磺港, northern Taiwan) to Donggang Fishing Harbor in Pingtung (屏東東港, southern Taiwan), the team distributed their video material to elementary schools in fishing villages along the coast, hoping the students there could learn more about the industry.

Chu Hsu-yang (朱許暘), one of the students, comes from a family of fishermen in Huanggang, Jinshan, the China Times reports. His family insists on using traditional sulfuric fire fishing, but has been facing a lack of resources due to destructive industry practices, such as drift netting and bottom trawling, which damage the seabed.

While Chu’s grandfather is disappointed that there will be no successor to continue his line of work, he says he would rather this be the case than have future generations face a damaged environment.

But this hasn't diminished the young Chu’s passion for the sea.

He chose to study at Taipei College of Maritime Technology to learn about Taiwan's marine ecology. His team at Sustainable of ocean is encouraging the preservation of 13 traditional fishing methods through a documentary and series of photographs.

Sustainable fishing methods have lower short-term economic gain due to high labor costs and smaller yields. The techniques, such as those used on Matsu (馬祖), have been disappearing with the outflow of young people and elderly fishermen retiring.

The team found that traditional fishing techniques vary depending on the species of fish and location. They have recorded sulfuric fire fishing in Jinshan, net casting in Hualien and stick-held net fishing around Green Island, among other traditional methods.

However, the costs for producing a documentary is more than a normal college student can afford, and some of the members have taken up as many as three part-time jobs to support their project.

The team has currently documented eight of the 13 techniques it plans to showcase, and has already spent NT$150,000 (US$5,000). It has launched a project on crowdfunding platform flyingV to raise NT$150,000 and increase awareness of its cause. So far project has raised NT$165,684 and will close on July 9.

台東-鏢旗魚2
Photo Credit: Sustainable of ocean
Harpoon fishing in Taitung.
綠島-棒受網2
Photo Credit: Sustainable of ocean
Stick-held net fishing at Green Island.
綠島-鰹竿釣2
Photo Credit: Sustainable of ocean
Pole and line fishing at Green Island.
花蓮-手拋網1
Photo Credit: Sustainable of oceanPhoto Credit: Sustainable of ocean
Net casting in Hualien.
金山蹦火仔-1
Photo Credit: Sustainable of ocean
Sulfuric fire fishing in Jinshan.
Photo Credit: Sustainable of ocean
花蓮-八卦網3
Photo Credit: Sustainable of ocean
Eight-trigram nets in Hualien.
Photo Credit: Sustainable of ocean
花蓮-八卦網1
Photo Credit: Sustainable of ocean
Eight-trigram nets in Hualien.
Photo Credit: Sustainable of ocean

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