Donggang, which literally means “East Port”, is a vibrant fishing harbor nestled on the western coast of Taiwan. This contradiction between name and location illustrates the complexity of this place.

Navigating disputed waters, there is tension between Taiwanese fishermen and those from neighboring countries. The growing number of fishing boats and a depleted fish population has escalated the situation.

The majority of foreign crew members are from Indonesia, working to support their families back home. Foreign seamen are not free to go ashore while their boats are in port.

May 9, 2010 - A Philippine government vessel fired several rounds of bullets at a Donggang fishing boat killing Hung Shih-cheng, a Taiwanese crew member. His son-in-law, an Indonesian fisherman, was the boat's captain.

April 24, 2015 - The first bluefin tuna of the season, caught by a Donggang fisherman, was auctioned for NT$1.68 million (US$54,000). Weighing in at 366kg or 807 pounds, this fish broke the previous record of 320kg. From April through June, migrating bluefin tuna can be found in the deep waters off Taiwan's eastern coast.

April 28, 2008 - Roid, an Indonesian fisherman working on a Taiwanese boat, inadvertently allowed a tuna to slip back into the sea. The captain was upset because the catch had been poor and pushed Roid overboard. Two Indonesian crew members tried to avenge the captain and he killed them both with a fishing knife.

November 13, 2015 - Hung Huai-jen said his boat was surrounded by a group of Vietnamese fishing boats in waters off Taiwan, presumably for the purpose of robbing him. He managed to give them the slip and called the Taiwanese coast guard for help. The Vietnamese boats had dispersed by the time help arrived.

With China's "One China" policy, neighboring countries don't deal directly with the Taiwanese government. When navigating disputed and overlapping territories the Taiwanese fisherman are at a disadvantage. Rising Nationalism has increased the risk of skirmishes at sea.

location: Donggang Port, Taiwan
date: February 2016

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