There is a unique, old fashioned but almost dying with time fishing way in Jinshan－Sulfuric fire fishing. To preserve the waning tradition, the local government filed this technique into the cultural heritage of New Taipei City in 2015. Long before it raised the attention of the local government, it had caught the eye of the editor of National Geography. Now let’s see why this tradition is so fascinating.
It is an acoustic and visual fishing method, with superior esthetic. Under the nightfall, the captain blows the first whistle to indicate the direction then blows the second whistle to observe the school of fish and blows the third whistle to commend the fire lit. The process requires great teamwork and skills. It would be a failure if any link is missed. And if there is any misjudgment, the fishermen will end up catching nothing. Only by participating in this work can one feel how difficult it is.
The season for sulfuric fire fishing is from May to August. Originally the fishermen simply burned the bamboo to make a torch. Later the bamboo is replaced with sulfur stone which contains calcium carbide. When the stone is added with water, it creates acetylene and generates explosive sound with a strong bright light which attracts tens of thousands of Japanese scaled sardine jumping out of water.
The Marine Friendly Fishing method
The sulfuric fire fishing has been developed for a hundred years. Unlike trawl fishing which is prone to drain the fishing resource and cause damage to the marine environment, sulfuric fishing is friendlier to the ocean.
Thirty years ago, sulfuric fire fishing is widely used at the northeastern shore. There were 300 fishing boats engaged in sulfuric fire fishing. But now, because of the aging population and the outflow of the youth population, there are only 4 left. Most of the fishing boats have given up the traditional way and adapt the modern technique to catch the fish.
Sulfuric fishing is now facing a challenging future. Catching Japanese scaled sardine is not profitable, and the fishing season is only 4 months.
It’s hard for the fisherfolks to maintain their living. Though their lives are hard, they are still dedicated to keeping this cultural scene. They know that if they abandon this skill, it will be lost forever. Now they are endeavor to transforming this industry into tourism so people in the future will not forget this old Taiwanese wisdom.
If you have a chance to be in Taiwan during the fishing season, we highly recommend you visit Jingshan and feel the spirit of upholding this cultural heritage. There are yachts ready to sail out at Keelung Port and Bisha Port every Saturday and Sunday. Tourists can abroad the yachts which lead them to capture the scene when the fishing boat light the sulfur fire to draw the fish out from the sea. Most of the yachts set out in the late afternoon so the passengers can view the sunset on the sea and take an around look of Shenao Cape and Keelung Isle before the fishing starts.
See more: 【Taipei Day Tour】What you can do around Jingshan
So it can be a half-day itinerary for you. If you want a full-day itinerary, we also have some suggestions. You can take a walk at Mysterious coast, Jingshan in the morning then have lunch at Jingbaoli Old Street. If you have sufficient time, you can even take a bath at Jingshan hot spring. Just make sure that you can catch up on the yacht before it leaves.
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