Taiwan revitalizes fishing villages to spur growth

In order to revitalize and raise awareness of the contribution of fishing villages to the economy, the Fisheries Department of the Council of Agriculture specially commissioned the National Taiwan Ocean University to launch an exhibition from November 5 to 6 at Huashan 1914 Creative Park, the heart of cultural and creative industry in Taipei.

Watch the video here.

Visitors at exhibition booths.

The government has called for regional revitalization of the fishing villages to increase competitiveness, attract tourism and the younger generation to join local industries like agriculture and fisheries.  

13 distinct fishing villages from all over Taiwan were invited to participate, showcasing different aspects of fishing villages. The venue was divided into five main areas: selling exquisite aquatic products, fishing village sightseeing, applications of artificial intelligence, and DIY experience of fishing innovation.

An exhibitor showcases local products.

City dwellers learn about fishing villages’ way of life

In the exhibition, the Nanya Community in New Taipei City introduced aboriginal handicraft alpinia zerumbet weaving, while fishing villages in Pingliao of Keelung, Sangu of Tainan and Xingang of Kaohsiung showcased cultural products. Besides, Nanliao Community from Kaohsiung, Haifeng Community from Yunlin and Maoao Community from Xinbei showcased fishery products. All these communities are located along the coast of Taiwan. 

Visitors look at information and products of fishing villages.

Chen Jingyi, project manager, Dongao Community Development Association in Yilan, who was at one of the booths, told Maritime Fairtrade: “We worked hard to promote satoumi, villages by the sea, via organizing a day trip to the northern coast of Taiwan. We want to let more people know about the culture and the values of the fishing villages. The itineraries include zipline adventure in Lujing Dongyue in Yilan, education tour, fish-based diet education lesson as well as dried fish floss cooking class.” 

A booth promotes day trips to fishing villages.

In Taiwan during recent years, there was increasing public interest in satoumi, with more awareness of environment sustainability and the need to protect and conserve marine ecosystems.

According to Dr. Osamu Matsuda, professor emeritus of Hiroshima University, satoumi is a concept from Japan and is defined as marine and coastal landscapes that have been formed and maintained by prolonged interaction between humans and ecosystems. It is the product of the long-held links between people’s livelihoods and the coastal waters. 

The Taiwanese government declared 2019 as the inaugural year of “Regional Revitalization” and all agencies, including the Fisheries Agency, National Development Council and Soil and Water Conservation Bureau, were instructed to promote this national policy.

Visitors throng the exhibition.

Moving forward by keeping to tradition

The development of fishing villages is highly related to the rural-urban movement of people. The National Development Council has identified 62 farming, mountain and fishing villages to prioritize the promotion of regional revitalization among 134 towns and villages. 

The Fisheries Agencies has four main strategies for promoting regional revitalization: to enhance competitiveness of fishing villages by establishing an industrial supply chain; to facilitate economic activities of fishing villages and interactions among different stakeholders; to engage in marketing efforts like brand-building; to preserve traditional fishing culture and promote tourism like recreational fishing and fish-based food tour.

The two-day exhibition aims to revitalize fishing villages.

Since 2020, the Fisheries Agency has designated 16 tourist routes of fishing villages and established the online information platform “Fish Taiwan”, to promote fishing village tourism. For example, the fishing village in Maoao in New Taipei City is famous for its culture of Ama, the female divers who scrounge the ocean for seafood and seaweed.

During the exhibition, the Maoao community displayed the gelidium, a local delicacy of edible red algae picked by the Ama.

Watch the video here.

Gelidium, local delicacy from Maoao.

Top photo credit: iStock/ BING-JHEN HONG. Qianzhen fish market auction scene in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. 

All other photos credit: Patricia Cheung

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