Tue, Jun 28, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Hsieh moves to protect skipjacks

ISLAND SYMBOL In a bid to support Orchid Island's tourist business, the premier announced measures to preserve the population of the island's iconic flying fish

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) yesterday announced that ships weighing more than 9 tonnes will be banned from entering waters within 9.7km of Orchid Island between March and June every year in a move to help preserve the area's flying fish, which are also called skipjacks.

In addition to the ban on big ships, the premier also said that the government will prohibit fishermen from towing their catch with large driftnets in the area during the same season.

"The flying fish is one of the special natural resources which is recognized as a symbol of Orchid Island. Local members of the Tao Tribe (達悟族) also organize an annual `Flying Fish Festival' to promote tourism," the premier said.

However, Hsieh said, in the past few years, the number of flying fishes has decreased because of fishermen's towing of large nets and poisoning.

"We shall help the local Tao Tribe preserve its natural re-sources," the premier said. "In the meantime, we will also help create more local job opportunities for them."

The premier, accompanied by Cabinet Spokesman Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰), Council of Indigenous People Chairman Walis Pelin (瓦歷斯貝林) and Taitung County Commissioner Hsu Ching-yuan (徐慶元), spent the day on Orchid Island yesterday. Hsieh joined a canoe trip out to sea and visited local tribal elders' homes.

The premier also said that the Cabinet will spend a total of NT$205 million (US$6.54 million) on Orchid Island to stimulate tourism there. According to the premier, the NT$205 million will come from compensation money paid by the Taipower Co to the island for its decades-long dumping of nuclear waste there.

The Taipower Co began to dump nuclear waste on Orchid Island in the early 1980s.

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