Sat, Apr 14, 2007 - Page 4 News List

Endangered local salmon in name debate

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Academics yesterday asked the Council of Agriculture (COA) to change the official Chinese name of the Formosan landlocked salmon.

The salmon is an endangered species unique to Taiwan and found in mountain creeks.

Currently, the species is called yinghua gouwen gui (櫻花鉤吻鮭), meaning salmon with a hooked nose and cherry blossom-shaped dots, referring to similarities with the cherry salmon in Japan, said Yang Hung-chia (楊鴻嘉), a research specialist who has studied the Formosan landlocked salmon for over 50 years.

Academics argue, however, that the name is misleading because the two are distinct species, although closely related. They asked the council to change the Chinese name to Taiwan salmon (台灣鮭).

"The Formosan landlocked salmon used to be considered the same species as the cherry salmon in Japan when the Japanese first discovered the species in 1917," Yang said.

However, Japanese academic Oshima Masamitsu and his US research partner David Jordan proved the species to be distinct and unique in 1919, he said.

"But the former director of the Taiwan Provincial Museum, Chen Chian-shan (陳兼善), made the same mistake when he gave the species its Chinese name in 1954," he said.

Politicians from the pan-blue camp, however, said last month that the move to rename the species was an attempt to desinicize Taiwan.

"Their comments didn't make any sense since academics have been pushing for the species name change for a long time," said Chen Tsao-hsiang (陳藻香), a retired professor.

COA Deputy Chairman Lee Jen-chuyan (李健全) said the council would decide on the name change after receiving the official request.

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