President Ma Ying-jeou predicted Taiwan will become the largest grouper producer in the world. (Photo: President.gov.tw/Stock File)
Trade pact a blessing to grouper farmers
Monday, June 28, 2010, 23:50 (GMT + 9)
Taiwanese grouper farms plan to expand production in response to news that the fish will be given zero tariff treatment under a landmark cross-Taiwan Strait trade pact.
President Ma Ying-jeou predicted that Taiwan will become the largest producer of grouper in the world due to the fact that the fish has been included on Taiwan's "early harvest" list of goods and services that will enjoy preferential tariff treatment under the economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA).
Ma expressed hope that the total annual production value of grouper -- which are mainly raised in Kaohsiung and Pingtung counties in southern Taiwan -- will increase to TWD 7.6 billion (USD 237 million).
Grouper farmer Dai Kun-Tsai noted a growing demand from China, CNA reports.
"The demand from China for the fish during the Shanghai World Expo has been the greatest I have ever seen in more than 20 years, " Dai said.
Dai also said that as the government now allows boats to transport live grouper directly to 11 harbors in China's Fujian Province, the high quality of the fish and the zero tariff treatment are expected to boost grouper profits.
According to Ho Shu-yuan, director of a fishermen's association in Kaohsiung County, some local fishermen have approached the association to seek advice on how to enter the grouper aquaculture business.
Ho said the price of quality grouper has increased to TWD 416 (USD 13) per kilo, up 56 per cent from last year, while the price of giant grouper has risen by 27 per cent to TWD 466 (USD 14.5) per kilo.
Huang Tsai-tuan, head of Pingtung County's Aquaculture Development Association, said local grouper producers hope the signing of the ECFA will help them rebound from losses they sustained under Typhoon Morakot last August.
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By Denise Recalde