Sun, Nov 10, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Korean show plans clarification of fishy story on local farms

TILAPIA FUROR:After a Council of Agriculture complaint, the South Korean TV station said it would release a statement to clarify the situation

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

The Fisheries Agency said it and industry groups have decided to suspend plans to file a lawsuit against a South Korean TV channel after the latter agreed to clarify a negative report on Taiwanese tilapia that one of its programs aired last month.

The program, broadcast on Oct. 25, showed clips of Taiwanese tilapia farms in poor condition and implied that antibiotics had been improperly used, the groups said. The show sparked a food scare among South Korean consumers and raised an outcry from Taiwan’s tilapia industry.

After rounds of talks with the TV show’s producers, the Council of Agriculture said the show has agreed to include a narrative and captions on its Web site and related programs.

Channel A, a unit of major newspaper group Dong-A IIbo, plans to publish a statement on its Web site as early as tomorrow and, on the Friday edition, include the statement in the opening credits of the show that aired the report in a previous episode, according to a source who preferred not to be named.

“The program was produced to expose some deceptive fish sellers passing tilapia off as sea bream and showed footage of a Taiwanese tilapia fish farm covered with algae. After the show was broadcast, the Taipei Mission in Korea lodged a protest against the program,” the caption was slated to read. “After closer inspection it turned out that the Taiwanese tilapia fish farm covered with algae was actually abandoned and did not contain any fish. In addition, the water in Taiwanese tilapia fish farms all meets international certification standards.”

Fisheries Agency Director-General James Sha (沙志一) said tilapia is not the same species of fish as sea bream, the two fish taste very different and sea bream can cost up to 10 times as much as tilapia.

The council said that it will ask the Taipei Mission in Korea to arrange a press conference in Seoul on Nov. 20 to clarify the misunderstanding caused by the Channel A report.

Taiwanese officials and industry groups said they would attend the Busan International Seafood and Fisheries Expo on Nov. 21 and Nov. 22 to promote the nation’s quality tilapia products, especially those certified by the Netherlands-based Aquaculture Stewardship Council, under the International Standards for Responsible Tilapia Aquaculture.

Additional reporting by CNA

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