This summer, I decided not to apply for an internship in the U.S., I went to my home country: Taiwan.
This country is located between the East China Sea and the South China Sea. However, many seafood products were from IUU vessels or from nearshore bottom trawler boats. Therefore, the first work is checking where the seafood products are from?
The second work is helping the Michelin restaurants not over-use the seafood products and trigger the environment goes to a worse situation. Recently, Michelin restaurants become an important mark for international tourists. According to the Guide of Michelin in 2019, there are 124 restaurants are in the “Le Guide Michelin” and 24 restaurants have Michelin Star. To stimulate consumers to come again, my company has to find out unique fish, including barnacle, giant isopod (Bathynomus), and Pacific mole crab (Hippaovalis). To provide “unique” seafood for these restaurants, the company has found a lot of different seafood. However, the company forgot how high impact on the catering when these Michelin restaurants have used a new product in their cuisine. Therefore, my second work is educating these chefs’ why we should not use this seafood or shorten the providing period even though the supplying season has not finished.
After reporting how negative impact on the environment of the fish resources to client restaurants, the company had a huge conflict: conceal the information or reveal the information? It is not surprising that all investors were gone, and the company closed. It is a sad story about a company’s bankrupt because of protecting fish resources.
What did I learn from the summer internship? First, even though the Taiwanese Government supports the Sustainable Development Goals in many developing countries, in contrast, in Taiwan, the biggest stakeholder in the industry may not be ready to change their attitude and concentrate on the issue of fish resources collapse in Asia. How to lead the industry to go to a better situation? Probably you will ask some questions: how about using policies and regulation from the government? The South China Sea and the East China Sea have many countries share the marine resources. The marine resources sharing becomes an important issue and not many governments want to secrecy their own fishery industry. Interestingly, the fishery industry already knows how to circumvent the policy and earns the maximum benefit by under-table cooperation.
Second, by education from NGOs? Well, how many consumers cannot know where fish are from? How many fish traders conceal the information just for higher income? The overlapping and closing fishing areas in the north of Taiwan and the large and far area in the south of Taiwan lead the small-scale fishery to have a huge challenge in regulation and management. Shall Taiwan department of fishery ask for help? Or, can Taiwan re-draw its ocean zoning to elevate its efficiency? Recently, the Department of fishery supports aquaculture. While checking these projects of aquaculture, it seems does not have too many high technologies which can improve the pollution from the traditional fish farm. Can the farmed fish be accepted by these restaurants’ chefs’ or consumers?
In August, my guide and I have had a very long conversation. Two years ago, he educated chefs’ use “Ike Jime” (a method of slaughtering fish to maintain the quality of its meat) to let a fish die in less painful (animal right). This year, we used the impact in Facebook to reveal how worse of the fish resources in this summer, then, we announce that we won’t provide IUU fish to the Michelin restaurants until the day when the fish resources recovered. Maybe in this cruel way, the catering industry will self-reflect how to cook their seafood cautiously.
My guider told me: this time, we’ve given these chefs a lesson. However, we have another challenge: the traditional markets in Asia where is the biggest stakeholder but cannot be impacted by Business to Business.
p.s. I am wondering to say THANK YOU for my friends: Brian (Seafood Watch office), Tim (Fish Choice), Pam and Jim (Monterey Bay Aquarium), Fisheries Trust, Ocean2Table, Louie (Seafood Legacy in Japan), China Blue, Mr. Chang-An Cheng (Consultant in the Taipei City Government). Your suggestion will lead me to how to stimulate an industry or a local government to use the marine resources in high efficiency.