Tue, Dec 07, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Fewer mullet heading south for winter


Despite the arrival of this year's first cold front, schools of mullet -- the "fish that lay the golden eggs" -- have continued to congregate around Tamsui, instead of heading south in their normal migratory pattern.

Fishermen in the south only caught about 1,000 of the fish over the weekend because so few mullet have made the journey along Taiwan's western coast.

Officials from the Taiwan Fisheries Research Institute in Kao-hsiung contacted yesterday attributed the situation to the fact that the water in the southern part of the Taiwan Strait has remained too warm for the fish, which prefers colder water.

Grey mullet, the roe of which is an expensive hors-d'oeuvre, normally swim from the cold North Pacific in great shoals to the Taiwan Strait between December and February to spawn, before returning to the north. These mullet schools usually show up off the coast just north of Kaohsiung.

About a decade ago, fishermen in southern Taiwan could catch big hauls of gravid mullet, particularly during cold fronts.

Catches have declined in recent years as a result of pollution, dynamite fishing by Chinese fishermen and interception of the shoals by Chinese fishermen.

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