The coastal province of Changhua contains several areas regarded as "wetlands of international importance" by the Ministry of the Interior. These include the Zhuoshui Estuary Wetland, Dacheng Wetland, and Hanbao Wetland.
The county is located at the confluence of the northern and southern currents, leaving it vulnerable to pollution. With an intertidal zone of up to 61 kilometers, plastics, aluminum cans, and discarded fishing gear come in with the high tide, clogging the wetlands.
Changhua top official Wang Hui-mei joins the cleanup. (Business Today photo)
With the aid of residents, the government has been cleaning up beaches and the ocean while resetting the holding area for fishing waste. They have also installed inceptors, or vessels anchored to the riverbed that divert waste into a collection system at the source of the pollution. Last year, the interceptors successfully prevented 152.4 tons of waste from entering the ocean via Taiwan’s rivers.
Environmental protection fleet. (Business Today photo)
In 2017, the county government launched the environmental protection fleet in partnership with the public. Most of its 210 members are either fisherman or oyster farmers.
The fleet collects marine waste and brings it to the Harbor Inspection office for classification and recycling, with rewards for hauls introduced last year.
The 708 kg of marine waste collected in Changhua last year was 11 times the amount collected in 2019, earning the county an award from the Ocean Conservation Administration.
"People have reached a consensus on protecting the oceans and are now willing to contribute, which explains the growth," said Jiang Pei-gen (江培根), director of the Changhua County Department of Environmental Protection.
The county has also begun beach cleanup efforts, dividing the 36.9 km beach into 19 sections to be handled by different local authorities. Over 100 beach cleanup activities involving residents occur annually.
Schools are also getting involved, with the county government encouraging teachers to increase the amount of the curriculum dedicated to conservation, have students make picture books about environmental topics, and schedule field trips to learn about the ocean.
Students learning about wetlands in Changhua. (Business Today photo)