Fish prices rise: FTC
The prices of abalone, dried scallops and mullet roe have increased ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) said yesterday. However, the prices of other traditional New Year treats, such as pistachios, peanuts and dried melon seeds, have remained stable, the commission said after checking pre-holiday prices. The price of abalone has risen 26 percent, dried scallops 15 percent and mullet roe 12 percent compared with the last Lunar New Year, the commission said. It attributed the price hikes to climate change and environmental factors, which it said have affected the three products, whether locally produced or imported from Mexico and Chile.
Record donations received
A charity’s branch in Chiayi County yesterday said it has received more than NT$7.42 million (US$247,828) in New Year donations, the largest amount in its 44-year history. The Chiayi unit of the Taiwan Fund for Children and Families said the money would be used to help local disadvantaged families buy supplies for the Lunar New Year holiday, with each family receiving NT$7,000. In addition, the foundation said, it has distributed NT$500,000 worth of commodities donated by 4,320 people. One of the donors, surnamed Chen (陳), said she had contributed three boxes of goods to encourage a boy with scoliosis whom she was sponsoring.
VWP application progresses
The government hopes US officials will visit Taiwan soon to help expedite the country’s formal inclusion in the US’ visa-waiver program (VWP), Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman James Chang (章計平) said yesterday. Taiwan was named a candidate in the program late last year and it is now awaiting a team of officials from the US Department of Homeland Security to inspect the country’s border and airport security systems. That inspection and other evaluations will determine whether the department and the US Congress grant the nation approval as a member of the program, according to the application procedure. Chang’s remarks came after US President Barack Obama signed into effect an administrative order for Taiwan to be listed as a candidate for visa-waiver program membership a day earlier. Progress reports will be filed on a semi-annual basis, according to the order.
Fishermen face investigation
Four Indonesian fishermen allegedly involved in the death of a Taiwanese fishing boat skipper arrived in Taiwan on Thursday night under the escort of police officers. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the four would face a judicial investigation into the death of Wang Yao-chung (王耀彰), the captain of the Pingtung-registered Chin Hai Hsiang No. 3. Two other Indonesian fishermen, also crew members on the boat, were brought to Taiwan earlier this year to be questioned in connection with Wang’s death, the ministry said. The vessel reportedly lost contact with its owners on Dec. 6 while fishing in the Indian Ocean. After the ministry reported the case to the Indian government, the boat was intercepted by Indian naval ships on Dec. 9 and escorted to Port Blair in the Andaman Islands between India and Myanmar. Some of the six crew members admitted to having killed Wang and throwing his body into the sea, according to Indian authorities.