Live-fire Drills to Be Launched Between End of June and July 2023 國防部.中科院規劃 明年6月底至7月再試射

Taitung fishermen lodged a complaint with the Ministry of National Defense last month about live-fire drills between April and June disrupting their work year after year. The ministry has announced it will contain its drills to between the end of June and July starting next year, but fishermen say July to September would be better.

A military boat approaches and asks the Taitung fishing boat to clear the area as there are live-fire drills going on. The fishermen are very unhappy to lose out on the mahi-mahi catch they've been waiting for. This has been an annual occurrence for decades. Fishermen say it's gotten worse this year and they can't fish two weeks out of every month. After local representatives and fishermen's associations filed a complaint with the Ministry of National Defense, the MND finally sent officials to Taitung on the 6th to meet with fishermen.

Chen Kun-chang, Chair, Taitung Fishermen's Association: “We can only work 15 days a month. How are we supposed to make a living?”

Lee Jung-lung, Chair, Xingang Fishermen's Association: “They are test-firing. Can't they wait until after July?”

The ministry has promised to hold its eastern Taiwan live-fire drills outside of fishing season next year and says it will give fishermen's associations early warning about upcoming drills. However, the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology says it can't set test periods for weapons ahead of time. The institute said it would set up a platform in the future to let fishermen know when they can head out to sea.

Wei Chao-ling, Deputy National Defense Minister: “Starting in 2023, or next year, we will hold our live-fire drills between the end of June and July.”

Wu Tien-fu, Deputy Director, National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology: “Once we set up this (reporting platform), fishermen's associations will be notified a day or two in advance (of drills).”

The ministry says relevant regulations were amended in 2020 to compensate fishermen for 30 percent of losses caused by military exercises. However, fishermen's associations say they have never even heard of this and are calling on the ministry to revise laws and protect their interests.