Sun, Aug 23, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Aquaculture industry suffers unprecedented losses

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

The aquaculture industry in southern Taiwan suffered unprecedented losses in floods triggered by Typhoon Morakot earlier this month, with its grouper culture ponds, which turn out nearly 60 percent of the world’s grouper production in terms of value, almost completely wiped out, an industry source said yesterday.

A post-Morakot investigation conducted by the Council of Agriculture (COA) showed that of the 1,500 hectares of grouper ponds in Taiwan, more than 90 percent have been damaged.

The COA reported that as of 3pm on Friday, Morakot’s damage to the aquaculture industry amounted to NT$4.14 billion (US$126 million). In Jiadong (佳冬) and Linbian (林邊) alone, the losses to the fish culture industry might reach NT$3 billion, Pingtung County Commissioner Tsao Chi-hung (曹啟鴻) said.

Hsieh Chin-huei (謝錦輝), president of the Aquaculture Development Association, said that it might take the grouper culture industry more than a year to recover.

Groupers, a high value fish product, earn the nation a large amount of foreign exchange every year. Last year, Taiwan’s NT$3.88 billion in grouper production represented 58 percent of the world’s overall production for the popular fish.

As the coastal townships of Jia­dong and Linbian in Pingtung County suffered the heaviest toll in terms of aquaculture losses, the commissioner is looking for ways to help alleviate difficulties for fish farmers.

“For those people affected by the typhoon who owe banks, we can adopt a special measure to cancel their debt,” Tsao told reporters.

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