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MOFA lashes out at S. Korea TV report on aquaculture

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan has expressed its concern to a South Korean TV station that recently made a negative report on Taiwan's aquaculture industry, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday.

“We have asked our representative office in Seoul to express our nation's concern to the TV station and we are keeping close tabs on the matter,” MOFA spokeswoman Anna Kao (高安) said yesterday.

The ministry will ask the TV show to correct its report over Taiwan tilapia on those parts that are found to deviate from the truth as soon as possible, she added.

Meanwhile, MOFA also expressed its concern over the issue to South Korea's representative office in Taipei, she said.

Kao made the comments amid protests lodged by local tilapia farmers yesterday who said the South Korean TV station report has seriously damaged the image of Taiwan's fish farming industry and affected businesses.

“Food X-File,” a popular investigative reporting show on South Korean TV station Channel A, ran a report on Oct. 25 that investigated Taiwan's tilapia farming.

In its report, the TV show implies that they found evidence to show that Taiwan tilapia farming is facing problems including water pollution and the use of chemicals.

The TV show also said many of the nation's fish farms are located near Formosa Plastics Group's sixth naphtha cracking complex (台塑六輕) in Yunlin County's Mailiao Township (雲林縣麥寮鄉), in a move to imply that many of the fish raised there could have been affected by possible water pollution.

The TV show further urged Koreans not to eat Taiwan tilapia for their own health.

According to local media reports, after the TV show was aired in Korea late last month, many Korean companies have stopped importing Taiwan tilapia.

Taiwanese fish farmers alleged that the TV program was part of a defamation campaign launched by South Koreans to attack Taiwan's fishing industry.

South Korea is the biggest market for Taiwan tilapia. Nearly 50 percent of all Taiwan tilapia produced a year was exported to the Asian country in 2012, according to local media reports.

Taiwan to Protest: COA

Taiwan tilapia, the most popular farmed fish in Taiwan, has an annual production of 67,000 tons worth over NT$ 3.3 billion a year.

Asked to comment on the issue, Minister Chen Bao-ji (陳保基) of the Council of Agriculture (COA, 農委會) yesterday made a pledge over the high quality of Taiwan tilapia, stressing that the fish species has been widely recognized around the world and has been awarded many certifications.

“Taiwan government will lodge official protest to the South Korea over the incorrect report,” Chen said.

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