Illegal fishing is destroying HoubiLake Marine Conservation Area, Taiwan

By Jocylin

Illegal fishing in the Hengchun Peninsula, Pingtung has aggravated over the years. Despite many environmental groups warn against the ecological disruptions along with other environmental issues, many fishermen or local vendors ignore the warnings and the laws.

Recently, Kenting National Park has received reports on illegal fishing by local water activity owners. Some tourists witnessed a few local water activity owners drove their boats into the Houbihu Marine Resource Conservation Area to fish. Another water activity owner even carried a grouper and a scribbled snapper on to the shore.

The illegal fishing is quite regular in the area. The local environmental activists said the national park can only fine up to NT$3,000 and the enforcement lacks determination. Environmental consciousness is not common among the locals for they believe “the others will act on it if they don’t make a move first”. Additionally, the devices that mark the boundaries of the conservation area were taken down before Typhoon Goni. This gave the fishermen a chance to fish in the area before the boundary markers were placed again.

Years of conservation efforts destroyed

Needless to say, illegal fishing activities in the Houbihu Marine Resource Conservation Area have worsened throughout the years. In 2013, a community watch caught two divers fishing in the area but the police force of Kengting National Park did not answer their phone when he reported at the scene. In 2014, there were several cases where tourists caught sea urchins in the area and ate them at the spot. The number of sea urchins has decreased significantly over the last 2 years, which demolish the efforts of marine scientists and environmental groups. Only a few years ago, the park reported massive collective reproduction of sea urchins after years of conservation efforts.

Houbihu Marine Resource Conservation Area of Kengting National Park was established in 2005. The conservation area was initially protested by local residents and fishermen even though the coral reef-dwelling sea urchin and the marine ecosystems around Taiwan degenerated over the past few decades. The local environmental activists call for more harsh penalties, enforcement and regulations.


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