In line with the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030), the idea for the Taiwan Ocean Union was first considered in October last year and brought to fruition on July 6 where it was officially established, to provide a platform for academia, government and other stakeholders to develop and conserve Taiwan’s marine ecosystems. The Union will be hold its first national conference on November 7 at the National Taiwan Ocean University in Keelung City on the northern coast of Taiwan.
Based in the National Taiwan Ocean University, the union connects renowned academic and research institutions, such as the National Taiwan University, National Cheng Kung University, National Sun Yat-sen University and Academia Sinica, with related government agencies like the Ocean Affairs Council and Fisheries Agency of the Council of Agriculture.
The Union is divided into five main domains: marine environmental sustainability; marine observation technology; laws, policies and education of ocean; marine database and research vessel; and ocean engineering technology, so as to cover different aspects of ocean and to serve as a platform for cross-domain collaboration.
Establishment of the Taiwan Ocean Union
“Formosa”, the alternative name of Taiwan in the contemporary world, was transliterated from Latin and Portuguese. It was said that when the Portuguese found Taiwan during the Age of Discovery in the 16th century, they said: “Ilha formosa!” which means “Beautiful Island!”. The surrounding ocean of Taiwan, an island nation, can be viewed as the extension of the land with bountiful resources beyond measure.
However, the development of the marine field in Taiwan is not as good as that of agriculture, and its significance is only recognized at the economic level. The concepts of marine research are weak and limited. It was not until the late 1980s, with the help of foreign researchers, that Taiwan began to engage in marine research.
Moreover, confronted with unsustainable development and utilization of marine resources, destruction of coasts and protected areas, marine pollution and the impact of climate change, the United Nations has been addressing the importance of ocean sustainability. Taiwanese authority began to realize the importance of marine resources and the need for sustainability.
Focus of the first conference on sustainability
The conference will focus on “Ocean Sustainability, Inclusion and Innovation”, and explore a wide range of issues. For the scientific sector, the conference will cover issues like the consistency of scientific sampling, new methods for marine science sampling, marine information platform and development of ocean observation instruments.
Another issue to be highlighted is about the harmful carbon dioxide emitted by human activities which came into the spotlight in recent years, and the importance of blue carbon. Although crucial to the environment and helps to mitigate climate change, blue carbon, the term for carbon captured by the world’s ocean and coastal ecosystems, is underreported and not fully appreciated.
Therefore, the Taiwan Ocean Union hopes to use the conference to raise awareness of the concepts of blue carbon and spread the message that there is an urgent need of all stakeholders to allocate a certain amount of money and invest in the conservation and protection of marine ecosystems.
The chairperson of the Taiwan Ocean Union, Professor Chiang Kuoping, who also teaches at the National Taiwan Ocean University, said in an interview that, “The union aims at establishing a database for all sorts of marine research, providing systematic data for the experts of law and policymakers to propose effective proposals, thereby improving the government’s policy implementation. The second target is to establish and grow ocean industries.”
All photos credit: National Taiwan Ocean University. Top photo caption: Members of the Taiwan Ocean Union.