Accusing China of illegally extracting sand in the vicinity of the Formosa Banks and endangering the ecology, the Society for Wildlife and Nature yesterday called for government action to protect maritime resources that belong to Taiwan.
The society called for an cross-agency collaboration involving the ministries of justice, economic affairs and interior, and the Mainland Affairs Council to amend laws and give the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) a legal basis for protecting the shoal.
The shoal, which is near the median line of the Taiwan Strait, is a traditional fishing area for Penghu County fishers.
Photo courtesy of Society for Wildlife and Nature president Jeng Ming-shiou
Chinese ships have dredged more than 100,000 tonnes of sand daily from the shoal over the past few years, which has altered the sand and sediment and poses a catastrophe for local marine ecology, society president Jeng Ming-shiou (鄭明修) told a news conference in Taipei.
Jeng, a fellow member at Academia Sinica’s Biodiversity Research Center, called for regular air patrols by drones or helicopters over the Formosa Banks.
The group last month concluded an underwater recording of the shoal, capturing on screen 44 families of 643 fish, as well as more than 10 types of soft coral, he said, adding that the footage is the nation’s first documentation of marine ecology in the shoal area.
Photo courtesy of the Society for Wildlife and Nature via CNA
During the recording, the society found large swathes of the seabed covered in drag nets, which it said could be from Chinese trawlers.
Most Taiwanese do not know about the rich fishery resources in the area and scientific reports are lacking, the group said.
The society also urged the Council of Agriculture and the Ocean Affairs Council to allocate funding to support long-term projects to monitor underwater and fisheries conditions in the area, in a bid to ensure the sustainable development of the nation’s marine resources.
CGA Patrol Affairs Division Chief Wang Cheng-hsin (王正信) told the news conference that the agency had escorted two Chinese ships with its 28 crewmembers, including their captains back to Magong City (馬公) last year.
The two captains were each sentenced to six months in prison, while each crew member was given four months, he said, adding that all of their cargoes, including the illegally mined sand, were confiscated.
The CGA last year chased away 500 dredging ships, and 1,077 from January to last month, he said, adding that it had appealed to its Chinese counterpart, but had not received an answer.
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