2015.9 (Issue No. 279)
Nowadays, the Taiwanese have become increasingly aware of concepts like environmental protection and recreation. The fishing industry is no longer just a primary or processing industry that traded ocean resources for profit, but also a diversified industry that is worth exploring and understanding on a deeper level. Recreational oceanic tourism has become increasingly popular ever since the Taiwanese people’s travel demands have incremented. It is possible to find the transitional opportunity for fishing villages’ economy through transforming traditional fishery into recreational fishery, as well as sustainably applying local resources, fishing culture, and local products.
II. The prosperous fishery experience activities
Tourism and recreation industry flourished under the demands and positive recognition of the general populace. The fishing industry possesses various favorable resources such as culture, industry, landscape, ecology all along coastal waters, fishing ports, fishing villages, and aquaculture production areas. Tourism recreational experience activities can be developed based on the fishing industry including water-based entertainment fishery, seashore-based experiential fishery, and land-based recreational fishery.
1. Entertainment fishery
Entertainment fishery consists mainly of boarding leisure fishing vessels for a seafaring trip with the purpose of whale watching, island tourism, ocean ecotourism, lagoon tourism, island-based activities, and salt water fishing. Every spring and summertime, the unique experience offered by whale watching tours along Hualian and Taitung coastlines attracts tourists from around the world who are always amazed by diverse species of cetaceans in the area. At Wushih Fishery Harbor in Yilan, Shihti Fishery Harbor in Hualian, and Jialan (Fugang) Fishery Harbor in Taitung, as long as weather conditions permit, people are able to purchase leisure fishing boat tickets for an unforgettable whale watching trip in the big blue with their ID.
2. Seashore-based experiential fishery
The most typical activities in this kind of experiential fishery are “Taiwanese Beach Seine” and “Intertidal zone” experiences. The “Taiwanese Beach Seine” was once a popular ancient fishing method along Taiwan’s costal area which mainly targeted groundfish dwelling on sandy flat seabed. First both ends of the seine net are fixed on the shore forming a large “U” shape, and then it is hauled manually onto the beach by tens of fishermen. This is a fishing method that relies heavily on teamwork and cooperation, which reflects Taiwanese ancestral pioneers’ determination to live with nature. With the passage of time, this fishing method has transformed into a popular experiential fishing activity nowadays. Currently, places like Yilan, Penghu, Taoyuan, Miaoli, and Matzu still retain this form of traditional fishing method. Visitors are welcome to book reservations for experiencing this activity.
As for the “intertidal zone experience”, perhaps the most representative activity is the “Ox-drawn Cart Oyster Harvesting” at Changhwa County’s Wang-gong Fishery Harbor in Fangyuan Township. Local fishermen use the intertidal zone as a natural oyster farm. In the earlier days, fishermen would make round trips between the sea and the land by driving ox-drawn carts to farm or harvest oyster before high tide. In recent years, this type of unique industry has been successfully transformed into a recreational experiential activity.
3. Land-based recreational fishery events
Traditional fishing methods, rich fishing-village religious culture, and the beauty of fishery harbors are elements that all together developed into events and festivals with unique cultural characteristics. Various cultural festivities and fishing village experiential activities such as the Mackerel Festival in Nanfangao, the Pingtung Bluefin Tuna Cultural Festival, and the East Coast Sailfish Festival organized by local governments in cooperation with fishermen’s associations are one of the ways that help the general public to further understand the fishing industry culture. On the other hand, there are also events that connect the fishing industry with fishery product sales activities that are targeted towards younger generation consumers or family, such as the Wangkong Fishing Boat Lights Festival in Changhua County and the Toucheng Oceanic Culture and Tourism Festival. All these events have the common goal of presenting the diverse cultural characteristics of the industry to the public, so that they may see the beauty of the harbors and feel the culture of the fishing villages up close and personal.
III. Picturesque fishing village tour routes
In order to promote recreational tourism in local fishing village as well as each locale’s characteristic travel route, the Fisheries Agency (FA) cooperated with local fishermen’s associations in planning short fishing village travel routes with distinctive local features. Thus, fishermen’s associations all over Taiwan began planning short trip routes that offer their respective local flavors and features. Keelung offers fresh squid feasts and squid fishing trips. Taoyuan’s Chungli offers Hakka fishing village tours, unique Hakka delicacies, mangrove forest tours, and visits to Algal Reef Ecological Reserve. Changhua offers ox-drawn cart oyster harvest in Fangyuan Fishing Village where visitors tour oyster farms by riding on oxcarts. Chiayi offers diverse natural scenery tours to Waisanding Offshore Sandbar and lagoons on board tourist rafts, and other fishing village activities like clam digging and seaweed harvesting on rowboats. Tainan offers Sicao eco-tours on board bamboo rafts to see green tunnel on water and wetland sandbar. Kaohsiung offers visits to Kezailiao Fishery Harbor where the first ever HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) certified fish market in Taiwan is located, and then there is the one-day auctioneer experience and fishball making experience packages, or you can just stroll down the shore for some peace and quiet time. Taitung offers Fushan Fish Habitat Reserve eco-tours where visitors can get up close and personal to fish and sea. Hualian offers tour options involving visits to harbors along Qixingtan coastal area, amazing whale watching, and fishing village eco-tours on land. Yilan offers Turtle Island (Guishandao) exploration tours and whale watching tours from Toucheng, and low-temperature visits to frozen fish storages at local fish markets, or visits to local fish auction events where visitors can blend in to the local culture while learning about the local trade of sea food.
The Fisheries Agency of COA works actively with local governments, fishermen’s associations, and national fishery organizations in order to promote fishing village travel. Every year, they organize more than 40 fishery related festivities and recreational fishery promotional events nationwide by combining resources from fishing communities, charming harbors, local history, wetlands, intertidal zones, lagoons, natural landscapes, among others. In the future, the FA will continue to develop recreational fishery tourism centered on fishing villages and discover more fishing village travel highlights for the public to participate in. The objective is to motivate the general public in partaking fishing village related tours, and in the long run, lay the foundation for the prosperity of tourism industry.
Currently recreational fishery is listed officially as an item for promotion in the Rural Regeneration Program. In the future, the FA will continue to work relentlessly in promoting maritime ecotourism, and attract more foreign tourists to Taiwan. The ultimate goal is to instigate fishing village regeneration and sustainable development as well as increasing local economic revenue and creating employment opportunities. All of the aforementioned objectives must be achieved under the premise of maintaining the balance between tourism development and ecological protection.
Whale watching on leisure fishing boats.
Intertidal zone ecotourism.
Sicao mangrove lagoon ecotourism.
Summer night saltwater fishing.
Families enjoying an ox-drawn cart ride on the way to harvest oyster.