Pingtung vessel released
A Taiwanese fishing boat, which was detained by a patrol ship from Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in waters south of Yaeyama Islands, Okinawa, was released yesterday after paying a ￥4 million (US$38,900) fine, the Fisheries Agency said yesterday. Chen Jui-ming (陳瑞明), skipper of the Jui Ming Fa, registered in Pingtung County, yesterday admitted that the ship was operating in waters where fishing by Taiwanese vessels is not permitted. The incident occurred 41 nautical miles (76km) east of Ishigaki Island, the agency said, adding that the boat was 17 nautical miles (31.5km) beyond the temporary enforcement line, which was established unilaterally by Taiwan in 2003 to serve as an identification line to guarantee the safety of fishermen in disputed waters.
Quakes hit east coast
A total of seven earthquakes struck eastern areas of the nation between 12:21pm and 1:16pm yesterday, with the largest registering a magnitude of 4.9, Central Weather Bureau data showed. No casualties were immediately reported. The quakes, ranging between magnitude 3.4 and magnitude 4.9, all hit Hualien County, an earthquake-prone area where the Philippine Sea Plate borders the Eurasian Plate. The strongest tremor was primarily felt in Heping Township (和平), Hualien County, and Nanao Township (南澳), Yilan County, the bureau said. However, quakes were also felt in Hualien City, Hehuanshan (合歡山) in Nantou County, Sanguang (三光) in Taoyuan County and Deji (德基) in Greater Taichung.
World medical forum likely
The nation is expected to host a World Medical Association (WMA) conference for the first time in 2016, Department of Health Minister Chiu Wen-ta (邱文達) said on Monday. Chiu said the WMA has tentatively decided to stage the 2016 conference in Taiwan, although the plan still needs to be confirmed at a meeting in October. Chiu, who is currently in Geneva, Switzerland, to attend the 66th World Health Assembly, also said that WMA president Cecil Wilson is scheduled to give a speech in Taiwan in August. In her opening address at the Geneva conference, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan (陳馮富珍) mentioned several public health challenges, including SARS, H1N1 and the new H7N9 strain of avian influenza. Chan also raised the importance of achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals, which Chiu said touch on the problem of a graying society that is affecting Taiwan. He said that cities and counties in Taiwan have already worked on becoming “friendly cities for seniors” and have made progress in this area.
New medium devised
A new potting medium made from rice straw has been found to have better water retention capacity than sphagnum moss, which is usually used for growing moth orchids, a researcher said yesterday. “We have turned rice straw, an agricultural waste product, into a useful orchid potting medium,” said Su Po-hsin (蘇博信), an assistant researcher at the Kaohsiung District Agricultural Research and Extension Station. After being shredded, softened and sterilized, the waste rice straw can be mixed with sphagnum moss to make a better potting compound for orchids, Su said. “We can reduce the use of sphagnum moss by three quarters,” he said. Su has applied for a patent for the new potting mix, which can also be made from wheat straw.