Thu, Dec 02, 2004 - Page 10 News List

Juifang fishermen upset by delayed compensation plan

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER

Hundreds of fishermen from Taipei County's Juifang Township yesterday protested in front of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, urging it to provide compensation for losses caused by the construction of Yuanshanzih flood-diversion sluice.

The economics ministry's Water Resources Agency began construction of the sluice three years ago. The outfall of the sluice is in the fishing zone of Juifang Fishermen's Association, which has about 3,900 members and 250 boats.

After three years of negotiation and evaluation, the agency decided in September to allocate about NT$800 million in compensation. The money was to be paid out in three installments on Oct. 20, Nov. 20 and Dec. 20.

The agency had budgeted the money last year, said Chen Ming-ching (陳明清), a senior executive officer at the agency.

"So far, none of us has received a dime yet," said Lin Hsien-ming (林羨明), one of the protesters.

Even though the flood-diversion channel won't be finished until the end of the this month, the agency activated the sluice in September and October, causing more pollution in the fishing zone.

The association estimated that total losses since a flood in September reached NT$300 million.

"We have had no catch since then ? most of us are waiting for the money to start our own businesses since the zone can no longer support fishery resources," Lin said.

Another issue complicating the compensation issue is that the fishing rights in the zone that the association held for the 10 years expired in July.

Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Yin Chi-ming (尹啟明) and agency Director-General Chen Shen-hsien (陳伸賢), who met with the representatives, agreed to convene a interdepartmental meeting on Dec. 9 and to resolve the dispute within a month of that meeting.

Chen said the agency would like to offer compensation as long as there is a way to determine who is qualified to receive the money and how to distribute it.

The agency planned to pay reparations to the fishermen who trade in the wholesale market, but the protesters yesterday demanded that fry and algae catchers be included in the compensation list as well.

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