Global environmental challenges
Something fishy about deadly Taiwan typhoon
Taiwan fisheries flopped to an 18-year low point after Typhoon Morakot flooded much of the low-lying south in August, the island’s Central News Agency told us, casting aquaculture as a victim. Fish farmers, swamped by the stench of their own produce a month after the storm, struggled to recover.
But were farmers also villains?
Taiwan’s Control Yuan, a central government agency that can censure public officials, says in a report this month they were at fault, as were Pingtung county officials who had given permits to only 29 percent of them, ignoring the rest as they pumped groundwater. The use of groundwater for fish farms has sunk surrounding land, leaving villages prone to floods, the report says.
“According to data the county gave us, still more than 70 percent of fish farming households and fish farm land area are illegal,” the Control Yuan autopsy says. “Registration of water rights is a county responsibility, but the county government over the long term pushed away the responsibility and neither offered timely guidance nor enforced laws.”
These findings are part of a bigger search for causes that will eventually name reasons, possibly irregular fruit-growing or forestry practices, triggered deadly mudslides in Taiwan’s southern mountains.
One possible conclusion: time for Taiwan to quit challenging nature?