The Taiwan Tilapia Alliance (台灣鯛協會) yesterday said it will take action to correct misrepresentations made by a South Korean TV show that portrayed a negative image of Taiwan’s tilapia fish-farming conditions.
On Oct. 25 the program showed footage of dead fish and empty boxes of antibiotics filmed at a farm near the Formosa Plastics naphtha cracker plant in Yunlin County’s Mailiao Township (麥寮).
The show also said the fish was unworthy of its name, since it was raised in freshwater, not saltwater.
Alliance chairperson Tsai Chun-hsiung (蔡俊雄) said it will visit the Korean Mission in Taipei with government officials, invite Korean media and fish importers to visit Taiwan and also make a formal request to the show to correct the inaccurate reporting.
Tsai said the Seafood Watch — a program by the Monterey Bay Aquarium that helps consumers and businesses choose seafood for a healthy ocean — has rated Taiwan tilapia as “good alternatives,” and 11 Taiwan tilapia farms have been certified by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council, proving the good quality of tilapia raised in Taiwan.
However, after the show was aired, many Koreans are now afraid to eat the fish from Taiwan and fish importers want to refunds, he said, adding that he is afraid the inaccurate image will have a big negative impact.
The Fisheries Agency Director General James Sha (沙志一) said total output of Taiwan tilapia is more than 70,000 tonnes each year, about 60 percent of which is exported to countries including the US, Canada, Saudi Arabia and South Korea.
Taiwan tilapia is exported to South Korea as mainly frozen, he said, adding that the quantity exported between January and September amounted to 4,122 tonnes, accounting for about 13 percent of total exports and 8 percent of total output.
South Korea is too cold to raise tilapia, so the price of imported tilapia from Taiwan has been higher, Sha said, adding that although other southeast Asian countries have expressed interest in working with Taiwanese fish breeders to get a share of the market, they were not able to gain quality certification — which proves the quality of the tilapia raised in Taiwan.
He said the government makes regular, non-scheduled inspections every year, along with Korean customs and health management departments, with the return rate of exports to South Korea about 10 percent, meaning the image depicted by the television show is biased.