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Paddlers protest ocean access restrictions in north Taiwan

Cordon at Dawulun Beach reduced after multiple drownings on single day

Ocean users protest restrictions to open water access in Keelung on Saturday. (CNA photo)

Ocean users protest restrictions to open water access in Keelung on Saturday. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Nearly 100 stand up paddle boarders gathered at Keelung's Dawulun Beach on Saturday (Nov. 4) to protest restrictions on how far beachgoers are allowed to venture into the ocean.

The protest followed a fine being issued to a paddler who went past the beach’s safety cordon, which was brought closer to the shore after three people drowned at the beach in one day. Demonstrators labelled the increased restrictions “marine martial law,” and repeatedly crossed the cordon in protest, per CNA.

The Taiwan Open Sea Alliance organized the protest, and said the cordon was put in place to manage swimmers, not other watersports. The alliance said that blanket regulations were too crude, and restrictions for different types of ocean use should be designed.

They also called on the government to conduct better monitoring of ocean conditions, and publish information about ocean conditions and weather forecasts online. Keelung Mayor George Hsieh (謝國樑) responded to the protest by saying fines are issued to protect peoples’ lives.

Hsieh said the issue is a dilemma for Keelung, which he described as a maritime city. He said the government will review the safety mechanisms in place and implement changes if necessary.

Those who crossed the cordon in protest will not be fined because they are expressing their demands to the government, not engaging in recreational activities, Hsieh said. He said the fire department sent patrol boats to the outer side of the cordon to prevent accidents during the protest.