A Taipei-based ocean conservation group on Tuesday urged the government to quickly address the growing problem of trash from oyster farms drifting ashore.
Kuroshio Ocean Education Foundation CEO Lin Dong-liang (林東良) said the government needs to amend laws and offer subsidies to reduce waste, as more garbage washes onto the northeastern coast from the southwest, where the majority of oyster farms are based.
Over the past three years, an increasing amount of abandoned cages and pieces of polystyrene boards used by farmers to grow oysters have been carried to the northeastern coast by ocean currents, he said.
Photo courtesy of the Kuroshio Ocean Education Foundation
On the west coast, large areas have been covered with broken pieces of polystyrene boards or buoys, which Lin called a “terrible sight.”
Due to the diverse types of discarded fishing gear being found along the west coast, Lin called for a concerted effort between central and local authorities to swiftly tackle the marine trash problem.
According to the foundation’s Fishery Debris Handbook of West Taiwan, more than 60 percent of marine trash is produced by oyster growers in Tainan, and Changhua, Chiayi and Yunlin counties.
Citing the handbook, Yen Ning (顏寧), chief executive of environmental consultancy IndigoWaters, said that dumped oyster farming gear has often been found along the coasts of southwestern Taiwan, as well Penghu County to the west of Chiayi, while more abandoned fishing gear has been found in the waters off Hsinchu and Miaoli counties.
Although recycling facilities for discarded fishing nets have been established along coastal areas, there is an urgent need to regulate the use of polystyrene boards and buoys, she said.
She called for a ban on the use of polystyrene boards in the next two to three years, along with subsidies to help oyster farmers shift to using buoys made of other materials.
Yen said that encouraging oyster growers to use other types of buoys would be a major undertaking, and Taiwan lags far behind South Korea, which spent 10 years to reach the goal.
Oyster farmers in China and Japan have also switched to buoys made of more resistant materials to reduce plastic pollution, she said.
Ocean Conservation Administration Deputy Director-General Sung Hsin-chen (宋欣真) said that as part of a marine cleanup project, a fleet of 4,589 vessels and 2,953 divers had been formed to help local governments recycle discarded fishing nets and polystyrene items.
As of Sept. 30, 93 tonnes of used fishing nets and rope as well as 33 tonnes of polystyrene has been recycled under the project, agency data showed.
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