A South Korean TV program that featured negative coverage of Taiwanese tilapia, a high-value farmed fish, yesterday generated an outcry from government officials and aquaculturists, who demanded the immediate correction of information aired on the show.
At the question-and-answer session in the legislature, Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) said this was a matter of “our [image] being sullied by international media” and demanded that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs put the record straight.
Jiang made the remarks in response to Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chang Chia-chun (張嘉郡), who urged the government to lodge a solemn statement of protest following a report in the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the sister paper of the Taipei Times) yesterday.
The show, which aired on Friday last week on South Korea’s Channel A, said tilapia raised in Taiwan do not deserve the name because tilapia is a saltwater fish, while tilapia are raised in fresh water in Taiwan.
A fish pond at the Formosa Plastics Group’s naphtha cracker in Yunlin County’s Mailiao Township (麥寮) was filmed in the 60-minute program, along with dead bodies of the fish and some empty boxes of antibiotics, insinuating the use of antibiotics and high levels of pollution in Taiwanese tilapia, according to the Liberty Times report.
Separately yesterday, Fisheries Agency Deputy Director-General Tsay Tzu-yaw (蔡日耀) said the agency was “indignant” about the program.
It was “despicable” of South Korean media outlets to slander Taiwan’s aquaculture industry, Tsay said, adding that his agency would assist fish raisers and businesspeople in the industry to sue Channel A in South Korea and to seek compensation.
The TV program was a patchwork of images, which was edited in a way to deliberately defame the image of the aquaculture industry, rather than a factual representation of flow production in the industry, Tsay said.
According to the agency, 60 percent of the nation’s annual production of about 70,000 tonnes of tilapia is exported, mainly to the US, Canada, Saudi Arabia and South Korea.
Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Bao-ji (陳保基) said that the quality of Taiwanese tilapia is widely recognized internationally.
“Half of the world’s tilapia farms certified by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) are in Taiwan,” he said.
A number of officials with the Korean Mission in Taipei and South Korean media outlets stationed in Taiwan were invited by Tsai Chun-hsiung (蔡俊雄) to visit fish ponds in southern Taiwan yesterday afternoon to set the record straight, Chen said.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Anna Kao (高安) said yesterday that the Taipei Mission in South Korea has contacted Channel A to provide it with accurate information about the industry and demanded correction of false information in its program.
Hsinchu County Commissioner Chiu Ching-chun (邱鏡淳) and Chiayi County Commissioner Helen Chang (張花冠), along with a number of local councilors, yesterday voiced strong objections to the program.
In Dongshih Township (東石), Chiayi County, one of the country’s major producers of tilapia, Chang led a group of local politicians and fish breeders in a protest shouting that they will “boycott South Korean TV series and South Korean goods.”