Sun, Jun 03, 2018 - Page 3 News List

INTERVIEW: Collaboration can boost maritime diplomacy

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Ocean Affairs Council Minister Hwung Hwung-hweng discusses the wave power generation that he hopes to promote in eastern Taiwan during an interview with the Taipei Times at the council’s office in Kaohsiung on May 22.

Photo: Lin Chia-nan, Taipei Times

Ocean Affairs Council (OAC) Minister Hwung Hwung-hweng (黃煌煇) pledged to develop the nation’s marine economy and a maritime diplomacy based on resource sharing in an interview with the Taipei Times.

“In the 21th century, a nation’s wins or losses hinge on its strength at sea,” Hwung said, but his strategy for the nation’s maritime diplomacy is more than a belligerent outlook, emphasizing technological and commercial collaboration with neighboring nations.

Hwung, 72, officially took the OAC post at an inauguration ceremony in Kaohsiung on April 28.

An expert on hydraulic and civil engineering, Hwung said he has helped to plan effluent treatment facilities for the Ma-anshan Nuclear Power Plant, Changhua Coastal Industrial Park, Formosa Plastics Group’s naphtha cracker, among others.

“Engineering techniques are used to reduce the effect of a construction project on the environment,” he said, when asked to comment on some ecologists’ doubts about whether he, as an engineer, has the resolve to protect the nation’s marine environment.

Hwung said that one priority is to take into consideration the nation’s marine resources, including energy sources such as the natural gas and methane that are mainly in its western and southern waters, and then it can develop its ocean conservation policy and decide which research projects to conduct first.

To ensure the sustainability of fishery resources, the OAC aims to set up more conservation zones, just as Australia has set up a conservation zone to protect its Great Reef Barrier, he said, but added that the OAC must gather more information about which water areas are suitable.

Fishing activities in Taiwan used to be managed by the Council of Agriculture’s Fisheries Agency, but now the agency is to be responsible for inland fisheries, while the OAC is to be in charge of fisheries beyond the high-tide line, he said.

Asked how the OAC would safeguard exclusive economic zones that overlap those of Japan, the Philippines and China, Hwung said that the confrontational stance of the past should be replaced by mutually beneficial collaboration and resource sharing.

Taiwan and Japan can jointly exploit deep ocean water and protect fishery resources in the East China Sea, he said.

With regard to deep ocean water exploitation, Hwung said that Japan’s techniques are more mature, but that its sources are only about 200m deep, while the sources near Taiwan are more than 600m deep, suggesting that the nation’s water is cleaner and contains more precious elements.

To expedite the development of the deep ocean water industry, the OAC plans to establish a promotion zone in Hualien County, as advised by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), he added.

Regarding the nation’s bilateral relations with the Philippines and with China, Hwung said that they can also benefit from collaborating with Taiwan.

For example, Philippine academics have frequently visited National Cheng Kung University’s Tainan Hydraulics Laboratory to observe techniques, he said.

The laboratory, state-run Taiwan Water Corp and the Philippine’s Mapua University in December last year signed a memorandum of understanding, with the two Taiwanese entities promising to help the university advance techniques for improving water quality.

Taiwan and China could work together to tackle marine waste and the ecological crisis resulting from land reclamation in the South China Sea, Hwung said, but added that such collaboration should be carried out through academic or other non-governmental channels due to delicate cross-strait relations.

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