Academics, environmental protection groups and netizens on Monday accused Miaoli County Commissioner Liu Cheng-hung (劉政鴻) of setting a bad example in environmental protection by taking the lead in the destruction of a river habitat.
The Miaoli County Government released as many as 14,000 bighead carp and grass carp spawn into the Laotianliao Creek (老田寮溪) near Touwu Township (頭屋鄉) amid efforts to maintain river ecosystems and diversify the fishery business.
Documentary maker Lin Jui-chu (林瑞珠) said this was not the first time Liu had released fish spawn or other animals into the wild.
Lin said that since Liu became commissioner in 2005, the county government has released fish spawn back into the wild on an almost yearly basis.
On National Day in 2006, the county government released Cichlasoma managuense into the river, while in May last year it released bullfrogs into the surroundings of the Hakka Dayuan, the building housing the management office for the Tung Flower Park, Lin said.
The Agriculture Department and the Fishery Division should know that such activity would not benefit the environment, but they still followed Liu’s orders, Lin said.
National Taiwan Ocean University (NTOU) marine biology professor Chen I-shiung (陳義雄) said that although grass carp and bighead carp have been raised in Taiwan for many years, they are still not indigenous fish.
The freshwater ecosystem is very fragile and people should not release foreign fish into rivers, Chen said, adding that along the length of one river, different sections hold vastly differing ecosystems.
Introducing the wrong sort of fish could affect the well-being of other fish.
“Did the county government make a detailed analysis and investigation before it released the fish?” Chen asked.
“If Mialoi County’s environmental protection standard is just ‘to have fish in the river,’ then it should be releasing Tilapia, because it has strong survival instincts and would exterminate the other 99 percent of freshwater life,” Chen said.
Releasing fish back into the wild is a complex issue, but the county government’s approach to it is too haphazard, Chen said, adding that two years ago, the Keelung City Government also insisted on releasing fish back into the wild, but he managed to persuade the city government to stop such practices.
NTOU aquaculture professor Gwo Jin-chywan (郭金泉) said the release of fish back into the wild by humans made the natural ecology more complex, adding that because of human interference, natural evolution was also being accelerated.
Meanwhile, Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan (EAST) executive director Wu Hung (朱增宏) said that while the Fisheries Agency passed the Regulations on Limitation of Releasing Aquatic Animals Back into the Wild (水產動物增殖放流限制及應遵行事項), the rules only apply to the release of aquatic life into oceans, intertidal zones and lagoons, and it does not apply to the release of aquatic life in rivers and creeks.
Lin Kuo-chang (林國彰), chief of the Forestry Bureau’s wildlife conservation section, said the bureau had already prepared a draft regulation on releasing animals and fish into the wild and it would be holding discussions on the draft.
Translated by Jake Chung, Staff Writer