CORONAVIRUS/First group of Taiwanese far-sea fishermen arrives home

06/15/2021 06:45 PM
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Fishermen are greeted by medical workers on arrival in Kaohsiung Tuesday. CNA photo June 15, 2021
Fishermen are greeted by medical workers on arrival in Kaohsiung Tuesday. CNA photo June 15, 2021

Taipei, June 15 (CNA) The first group of over 4,000 fishermen expected to return home to Kaohsiung in the coming weeks at the end of the far-sea fishing season arrived on Tuesday.

The first ship to reach port was the squid fishing boat "Win Far Yang No.1," which docked at Kaohsiung's Qianzhen Fish Port at a little after 8 a.m. The 52 crew members on the boat -- four Taiwanese and 48 foreign nationals -- will be required to quarantine under Fisheries Agency (FA) regulations.

Another five distant-water fishing vessels with around 250 crew members were scheduled to dock in Kaohsiung later Tuesday, and the city government has dispatched health officials and police officers to help them with their entry process.

Speaking to reporters at the port, Kaohsiung Deputy Mayor Charles Lin (林欽榮) said over 4,000 distant-water fishermen are due to return to Kaohsiung in the next four weeks.

Returning fishermen are tested at a temporary site set up at the port. CNA photo June 15, 2021
Returning fishermen are tested at a temporary site set up at the port. CNA photo June 15, 2021

Most of the returning boats are distant-water fishing vessels that catch squid and typically return to Taiwan between June and August, according to the city's Marine Bureau.

The FA's entry rules for distant-water fishermen require crew members on vessels that had contact with other ships during their journey -- including by docking at foreign ports, transferring cargo to other ships, or undergoing crew changes or inspections at sea -- to quarantine for 14 days upon returning to Taiwan.

There are two ways for them to be quarantined. The first is for all crew members to stay on the ship for 14 days, after which they will receive a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for COVID-19 before being released from quarantine.

The other method, which does not require any testing for COVID-19, is for crew members to stay at quarantine hotels or at home. Those who quarantine at hotels are entitled to receive a NT$1,500 (US$54.27) subsidy per day.

Crew members on ships that did not have contact with other vessels during their journey will not be required to quarantine. Instead, they will receive a rapid COVID-19 test upon docking in Taiwan.

If all the results are negative, they will be required to follow self-health management protocols for 14 days, which entail wearing a mask at all times outside their homes and checking their temperatures twice per day.

If any of the crew members receive a positive result from the rapid test, they will be placed in quarantine while a PCR test is processed. The rest of the crew will be required to stay on the ship in the meantime.

If the PCR test result comes back positive, the infected crew member will be hospitalized, while the rest will be required to quarantine for 14 days on land. If the PCR test result is negative, all crew members will be asked to follow self-health management protocols for 14 days.

(By Hung Hsueh-kuang and Chiang Yi-ching)

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