The Council of Agriculture (COA) yesterday said it would budget more than NT800 million (US$26.92 million) to help Taiwanese fish farmers, after China this week implemented a ban on grouper imports from Taiwan.
The Chinese General Administration of Customs on Friday last week announced that it would suspend the imports from Monday, citing prohibited chemicals and excessive levels of oxytetracycline allegedly found in grouper imports since December last year.
The council yesterday said it would offer grouper farmers cash subsidies to promote their products in other Asian countries.
They would receive NT$40 per kilogram of grouper transported by ship and NT$75 per kilogram transported by plane, it said.
Exports to other places — including the US, Canada, the EU, New Zealand, Australia and the Middle East — would receive subsidies of NT$50 per kilogram transported by ship and NT$75 per kilogram transported by plane, the council added.
It also budgeted NT$40 million to initiate overseas promotion of Taiwanese grouper, the COA said.
The Fisheries Agency is setting aside NT$82.6 million to fund interest-free loans running up to one year, and would offer assistance and training for those interested in raising grouper, agency Deputy Director-General Lin Kuo-ping (林國平) said.
The program would run until May next year, Lin said.
The agency said it is also allotting NT$377 million for subsidies of NT$40 per kilogram of grouper that has been scaled, gilled and gutted, NT$40 per kilogram of grouper steaks or filets, and other expenditures for fish farmers working with online platforms, supermarkets, convenience stores and restaurants.
COA Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) wrote on Facebook that Beijing wrongfully accused three farmers of producing allegedly tainted fish found on two ships.
The fish on those ships came from 11 separate farms, Chen said, adding that tests conducted there were negative for tetracycline, malachite green and crystal violet.
“This scientifically demonstrates that Taiwanese groupers are safe,” Chen said.
Chen said the council would provide the findings to its Chinese counterpart, urging it to provide proof of its claims.
China should abide by international law and uphold the global trade order, he said.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said China was “obstructing Taiwan’s freedom of trade.”
The government would stand with Taiwanese fish farmers, and continue to uphold and protect their rights, she said during a visit to fish processing plants and farms in Kaohsiung.
Additional reporting by Huang Hsu-lei
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