May 27, 2018

Foundation embarks on marine voyage to measure waste

News Source: Taipei Times

Author(s): Lin Chia-nan

Members of the Kuroshio Ocean Education Foundation are to travel around the nation to sample marine waste and water quality, following in the footsteps of a similar voyage it undertook 15 years ago, foundation chief executive officer Chang Hui-chun (張卉君) said on Friday.

The foundation, based in Hualien City, has been committed to protecting whales and dolphins since it was founded in 1998, she said, adding that its first trip in 2003 was led by foundation founder and writer Liao Hung-chi (廖鴻基).

As the foundation celebrates its 20th anniversary, members are to embark on a 14-day trip around Taiwan — dubbed “Beyond the Blue: Kuroshio’s Voyage” (島航) — and carry out three scientific tasks: measuring the oxygen concentration in the water, measuring the amount of marine waste and microplastic beads, and collecting information on underwater sounds, Chang said.

About 20 people would sail from the Port of Hualien (花蓮港) on a recreational ship named Turumoan (多羅滿) on Friday next week and stop at 12 other ports before returning to Hualien on June 14, she said.

Apart from foundation members, other participants include Keelung City Government official Tsai Fu-ning (蔡馥嚀), who helped set up a conservation bay off the city’s Chaojin Park (潮境公園), National Taiwan Ocean University (NTOU) students and other environmentalists, Chang said, adding that writer Wu Ming-yi (吳明益) and painter Wang Chieh (王傑) are also part of the team.

Due to the nation’s past self-containment, Taiwanese have been alienated from their marine environment, so the foundation aims to broaden their vision by offering them more information about the sea and marine life, she said.

With a tight budget of about NT$2 million (US$66,789), the team bought a manta trawl that it will use to take water samples, but has borrowed most of its measurement devices, including a sound detector from a Japanese academic, she said.

It might be the nation’s first comprehensive attempt to survey marine waste and related subject matter, foundation researcher Wen Pei-chen (溫珮珍) said yesterday.

As the ship is not as large and well-equipped as a research vessel, they would prepare more experimental consumables, she added.

Ocean Conservation Administration Minister Huang Hsiang-wen (黃向文) yesterday said that she would join the voyage from Keelung to Taoyuan.

Huang was a professor at NTOU before taking the post when the administration was inaugurated last month.

Many ocean cleanups have been held in the past, but the nation lacks a standardized method of surveying marine waste, Huang said, adding that she would seek to encourage more projects of this nature.