To mark Earth Day yesterday, the Fisheries Agency released a documentary about the marine ecosystems around Itu Aba Island (Taiping Island, 太平島) and announced that a research team has found 90 undocumented aquatic species around the Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島).
Taiping Island: A Concerto of Marine Life in the South China Sea (南疆太平之舞：徜徉南沙海洋生態樂章) was made as part of a one-year research project commissioned by the agency last year to study aquatic life around the Spratlys.
It was produced by underwater filmmaker Kuo Tao-jen’s (郭道仁) studio and Academia Sinica’s Biodiversity Research Center, and premiered yesterday at the Eslite Art House in Taipei’s Songshan Creative Park.
Center researcher and project head Jeng Ming-shiou (鄭明修) told a news conference at the movie theater that the team found 90 species never before documented in the waters off Itu Aba, which is the biggest natural island in the South China Sea.
Among these were nine large invertebrate species, 35 types of seaweed and 46 coral species, he said, adding that many species that were once common in the waters near Pingtung County’s Kenting Township (墾丁) can now only be found near Itu Aba, such as the humphead wrasse (龍王鯛), dogtooth tuna (裸鰆) and certain sharks.
“The island’s marine surroundings are reminiscent of those near Taiwan about 40 years ago,” he said.
Climate change and increasing human activity in the South China Sea pose great threats to Itu Aba’s marine life, Jeng said.
He urged government agencies to devote more resources to protecting the nation’s ecosystems.
Despite international arguments about marine resources in the South China Sea, the nation has “practically occupied the island to a certain degree,” given that Taiwanese military personnel and residents have lived on the island for several decades, agency Director-General Huang Hung-yan (黃鴻燕) said.
The agency aims to subsidize more research projects around Itu Aba to promote sustainable use of marine resources, he said.
In the documentary’s narration, Kuo, who stayed for about two-and-a-half months on the island last year while filming, described the dazzling movements of fish as an extended “dance drama.”
Kuo picked Antonio Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons for the background music, because it is as familiar to Americans and Europeans as the island is dear to Taiwanese, he said, adding that the melodies also accentuate the merriness of creatures busy reproducing.
TIGHTENED RULES: Employees in the affected sectors must be fully vaccinated by Jan. 1 or provide an exemption certificate, and they must undergo COVID-19 testing People working in sectors supervised by the education, economics, labor, and health and welfare ministries must be fully vaccinated by next month, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. “Starting from Jan. 1, vaccination rules for workers at industries supervised by the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Ministry of Labor, and the Ministry of Health and Welfare will be further enhanced,” said Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), who is the CECC’s spokesman. New employees and those returning to work must provide a negative COVID-19 test result — an antigen rapid test, at-home rapid
THREAT REMAINS: With cases rising in many parts of the world, the minister urged the public to continue complying with the disease prevention regulations Taiwan can be considered to have achieved “COVID zero” status, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday, despite the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) reporting 21 imported cases of COVID-19, the highest number of daily imported infections reported this year. Chen, who heads the CECC, said no local infections or deaths were reported, but 21 imported cases were confirmed yesterday. The imported cases are eight men and 13 women who arrived from Belize, Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam and the US, Chen said. The highest number of daily imported infections last year was 25 cases on March 23, he
NO ENTRY: The refusal to process Lithuanian goods at Chinese ports suggests that they have been ordered to do so by an official entity, a trade group head said The Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has called on the governments of other EU member states to jointly respond to Beijing blocking Lithuanian exports from entering China, as “Lithuania is not listed on the [Chinese customs] system as a country.” Lithuanian media Web site 15min.lt yesterday cited a Lithuanian wood exporter as saying that it was not allowed to unload its goods at an unnamed Chinese port. The company said that its Chinese partner cited customs authorities as saying that any merchandise or shipments related to Lithuania would be refused, effective immediately. Lithuanian timber exporter Sprusas confirmed that Lithuanian goods could be loaded
‘RESOLUTELY COMMITTED’: Sparking a crisis in the Taiwan Strait would be in no one’s interest, starting with China, the US secretary of state told a conference US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the Reuters Next conference on Friday that Chinese leaders should think carefully about their actions toward Taiwan, warning of “terrible consequences” if China precipitates a crisis across the Taiwan Strait. In an interview, Blinken addressed multiple foreign policy challenges facing the administration of US President Joe Biden, including faltering efforts to repair the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, Russia’s military buildup near Ukraine and the spiraling conflict in Ethiopia. Most acute might be China’s increasingly aggressive posture toward Taiwan. Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) has said tensions with China are at their worst in