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Japan prepares to import first 3 tons of 'Democracy Fish' from Taiwan

Pingtung County accounts for over 50% of Taiwan's grouper production

(Facebook, Pan Men-an photo)

(Facebook, Pan Men-an photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Pingtung County announced on Thursday (June 23) that Japan will import two to three tons of grouper "as soon as possible," as Taiwan searches for alternative markets for its "Democracy Fish" following a Chinese ban.

China’s customs administration announced it would ban grouper fish imports from Taiwan starting June 13 over alleged banned chemicals and excessive levels of oxytetracycline. Since then, Taiwan has been scrambling to find other markets for the fish. One of the hardest-hit areas is Pingtung County, which accounts for over 50% of Taiwan's production of groupers.

In a Facebook post uploaded on Thursday night, Pingtung County Magistrate Pan Men-an (潘孟安) thanked Japan for sending Japanese representatives directly to Pingtung County to visit grouper farms in the area. Pan said that during the visit he also held a video conference with Lin Shenping (林慎平), chairman of Japan’s largest fishery aquaculture company, Hayashi Trout Farm Inc. (林養魚場), who is leading the charge to import Taiwanese grouper.

Japan prepares to import first 3 tons of 'Democracy Fish' from Taiwan
Pingtung County Magistrate Pan Men-an holds video conference. (Facebook, Pan Men-an photo)

During his conversation with Lin he said, "I expressed my sincere thanks on behalf of the fishermen and the Taiwanese people." Pan also thanked Japan’s Sankei Shimbun Taipei branch director Yaita Akio for bringing attention to the matter in Japan.

Upon the invitation of Lin, Japanese representative Ms. Danjo visited a number of grouper production areas and processing plants. Pan said that Danjo was given the opportunity to sample several grouper dishes during lunch.

He added that he gave her a skin whitening and moisturizing mask containing collagen extracted from grouper, and other skin care products derived from the fish. According to Pan, the Japanese representatives pledged to import a first batch of two to three tons of grouper into Japan "as soon as possible to test the market response."

Pan said the county government and fish farmers are working on establishing shipping channels and negotiating Japan's quarantine procedures. He also called on Taiwanese to do their part to support the industry by buying locally-raised grouper.