The Ocean Affairs Council (OAC), in cooperation with the American Institute in Taiwan Kaohsiung Branch Office (AIT/K) co-hosted the Ocean Challenge 2021 virtual event on July 7. This was the third session joined by both sides as co-hosts since the creation of the event in 2019.
“The event is programmed in light of the core of UN’s Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and with an attempt to strengthen young adults’ capabilities of international ocean affairs. We encourage students to realize the ocean crisis and global challenges and address the issues with ocean science and technology. The OAC has been organizing Ocean Challenge in partnership with AIT/K since 2018. The first Ocean Challenge, formerly known as the Southern Taiwan Youth Ocean Forum, took place in 2019 and continued to expand with more students in participation each year. This year, OAC further invited college students to participate in the competition besides senior high school students. Among them are several international students from Hong Kong, America, India, Indonesia, Eswatini, Algeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Bangladesh, with the motivation to protect our oceans,” said Ching-Piao Tsai, Deputy Minister of OAC.
This year, AIT/K invited Linwood Pendleton as the keynote speaker. Dr. Pendleton is the senior vice president for Science at the Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the Ocean, and holds the International Chair of Excellence at the European Institute of Marine Studies. His areas of expertise include ocean policy, conservation, technology, and data. With a speech entitled “Data and technology for a healthy ocean – promises and challenges”, the prestigious expert shared his experience with ocean policies on utilizing data and technology for ocean conservation and improving marine issues. His presentation inspired all the participants with innovation and stimulated creative thinking.
10 teams had been chosen to proceed to the final round and gave English presentations of their proposals, including Ming Chuan University, joint team of Soochow University and National Kaohsiung Normal University, Chang Jung Christian University, Taipei Municipal Jingmei Girls' High School, National Nanke International Experimental High School, The Affiliated Senior High School of National Kaohsiung Normal University, National Feng-Shan Senior High School, National Pingtung Senior Industrial Vocational School and National Experimental High School at Hsinchu Science Park. The participants explored critical marine issues and came up with solutions in their own projects, such as promoting sea turtle conservation with smart art, making interceptors to prevent river debris from entering the ocean, using UAVs as an aid to avoid overfishing, building waste treatment station in estuaries, and producing biodegradable fishing nets to reduce ghost gear. All the individual entries were carefully reviewed and evaluated by the jury, consisting of Cheng-Di Dong of National Kaohsiung University of Science and Technology, Chia-Ying Ko of National Taiwan University Associate, Chung-Ling Chen and Ta-Gang Liu of National Cheng Kung University, and Tung-Yung Fan of National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium.
Chang Jung Christian University came in first place in the university category, followed by Ming Chuan University and joint team of Soochow University and National Kaohsiung Normal University. The top prize’s project features the construction of a smart art installation by using various marine debris collected at Liuqiu Beach, and data collection of sea turtles via UAVs and through diving. The data is then displayed on the smart art installation after the analysis of environmental and biological parameters is done. The students also seek to work with local community to promote ocean environmental education online, hoping to enhance cross-country exchanges in marine conservation, cultivate global seeded teachers for ocean environmental education, and raise public awareness towards marine ecological conservation nationwide and overseas. What’s unique about this entry is they try to reach out to the community and carry out the plan by actions. These international students said they would continue to promote marine conservation in their home countries, drawing on the valuable experience they gained in Taiwan.
National Pingtung Senior Industrial Vocational School won first prize in the high school division, as the Affiliated Senior High School of National Kaohsiung Normal University came second, and National Nanke International Experimental High School was placed third. The first-prize winner’s proposal is characterized by a retrofitted fishing vessel combining with a recycling system. This device enables the vessel to suck the plastic waste at sea and allows the waste management procedure to proceed on board. The waste is then sorted, cleaned and crushed, using alternative techniques such as biodegradation or hydraulic compressors. The next is shipping all the waste materials back to land for recycling and reuse. National Pingtung Senior Industrial Vocational School retains championship as their entry earns recognition for its feasibility and innovation, winning them an award of NT$30,000.