The Ocean Affairs Council (OAC) held the three-day Fourth National Oceans Day Celebration event at the Hai-Ing Hall, Kaohsiung Music Center, reaching its peak today. President Tsai Ing-wen attended the celebration in Kaohsiung and presided over the ceremony. Minister of the OAC, Kuan Bi-ling, Kaohsiung City Mayor Chen Chi-mai, several Legislative Yuan's Internal Administration Committee members, and distinguished domestic and international guests attended today's grand event. Representatives from diplomatic allies and foreign missions in Taiwan, including H.E. Ambassador David Adams Orrukem of Palau, H.E. Ambassador Jarden Kephas of Nauru, H.E. Ambassador Bikenibeu Paeniuof of Tuvalu, H.E. Ambassador Robert Kennedy Lewis of Saint Lucia, and Korean Mission in Taipei Representative Lee Eun Ho, among 14 other delegates, also joined the gathering. The support of our diplomatic allies and foreign missions has contributed significantly to this year's National Oceans Day, echoing the idea that effective ocean governance requires collective collaboration to achieve the best outcomes.
The celebration began with a lively and heartwarming performance by the Kaohsiung Children's Choir, setting a vibrant tone for the event. Minister Kuan delivered the opening remarks, expressing sincere gratitude for the expectations and support from all sectors towards the OAC. She emphasized that the council bears the responsibility of "national security, public security, and maritime security" in the vast ocean and along the coast while also shouldering the tasks of "marine pollution prevention and control, marine debris governance, marine ecosystem conservation, and the development of the marine industry." In our relentless efforts to push forward these tasks, the OAC worked tirelessly last May, achieving the remarkable milestone of passing three bills within a month. Minister Kuan extended special thanks to the support from the Executive Yuan, Chairman Jhuang Jui-hsiung of the Internal Administration Committee, and all the members of the Legislative Yuan.
Minister Kuan also stressed the limited staffing of the OAC but expressed gratitude for the collaboration from across the nation. This includes the outstanding civil servants responsible for marine affairs, relevant organizations, divers, environmental protection fleets, and the Friends of Coast Guard Associations from the northern, central, southern, and eastern regions, led by President Chen Jin-cai. They have all made long-term, selfless contributions and embody the power that safeguards the ocean. The force of safeguarding the oceans knows no boundaries, as it protects the people of different nations across the globe.
Minister Kuan specifically highlighted three recipients of the Coast Guard Medal presented by the President, Captain Wu Zheng-yi of the vessel "Ying Rong 638," Captain Xia Zhi-hang of the vessel "Ri Da Wang," and Captain Liu Mei-guo of the vessel "Man Sheng Fa 6," serving as the best models to the uplifting message of "Taiwan can help" advocated by President Tsai. Today, 14 countries have been invited to witness this occasion, symbolizing how Taiwan and these nations are like the ocean—separated on the surface but interconnected in depth.
Minister Kuan concluded a code emotionally. “There are three types of saltwater: sweat, tears, and seawater. Why is that? Does it imply that the ocean resides within each and every one of us? Does it signify that we all originate from the ocean and are inherently connected to it? Does it suggest that the ocean is the source of our life? The interpretation of this code is left to everyone,” she said.
Kaohsiung City Mayor Chen further expressed that Taiwan's indigenous peoples consist of 16 tribes, many of which share the same origins as our South Pacific allies. We have strong connections in terms of culture, history, security, and ocean sustainability. Therefore, seeing representatives from countries in the South Pacific today fills us with enthusiasm and bears witness to Kaohsiung, the "Maritime Capital," which takes great pride in its diverse and vibrant maritime culture. Mayor Chen also expressed special gratitude to President Tsai for several developments in Kaohsiung, including an investment of NT$ 4.2 billion in the Xingda Port Marine Industrial Park, an investment of NT$ 3.2 billion in the National Ship Model Laboratory, and NT$ 8 billion subsidy for the transformation of the Qianzhen Fishing Port. He also thanked the colleagues at the Coast Guard Administration for ensuring the well-being, livelihood, and safety of Kaohsiung residents and fishers. Mayor Chen hopes that the National Oceans Day will prompt reflection and inspire joint efforts between the central and local governments to make Kaohsiung a prominent maritime city, in line with the theme of this year's Ocean Day, "Ocean Planet, Rising as Mainstream."
President Tsai Ing-wen stated that the government has progressively implemented policies to pay tribute to the ocean. Last month, amendments to the "Marine Pollution Control Act" were completed, significantly increasing the maximum fine for marine pollution offenses from NT$1.5 million to NT$100 million. The government will also begin collecting marine pollution control fees and establish a fund dedicated to marine pollution prevention and control efforts. Additionally, the "Marine Industry Development Act" legislation explicitly stipulates that the government should allocate budgets to promote the development of the marine industry, encourage citizens to engage in marine activities, and provide appropriate guidance, assistance, incentives, and subsidies for the maritime sector. These efforts signify the government's commitment to actively addressing marine pollution while creating a favorable environment for developing high-quality marine industries in Taiwan and ensuring environmental sustainability. President Tsai Ing-wen expressed special appreciation to Minister Kuan for her dedicated efforts in promoting these legislative initiatives, which mark a significant step towards safeguarding the ocean.
President Tsai Ing-wen emphasized that the ocean connects Taiwan with the world. As the world gradually resumes normal exchanges in the post-pandemic era, beautiful Taiwan opens its arms and embraces the world through the ocean, welcoming international friends to visit Taiwan. Particularly for those who enjoy surfing, diving, fishing, or whale-watching, Taiwan is a destination not to be missed. She requested Mayor Chen, who has a passion for diving, to contribute his efforts in helping Taiwan reach its goal of attracting 6 million international tourists this year.
President Tsai Ing-wen continued to preside over the award ceremony for maritime rescue and the Friends of Coast Guard Associations. She awarded the recipients of the Coast Guard Medal and expressed her gratitude to the captains and companies of the vessels "Ying Rong 638," "Ri Da Wang," and "Man Sheng Fa 6" for their courageous efforts and daring rescues of distressed international ships, fully embodying the spirit of maritime mutual assistance and bringing honor to Taiwan on the international stage. She also commended Zheng Ming-jun, the Lifelong Honorary Chief Advisor of the Friends of Coast Guard Associations, and Chen Jin-cai, the Association's President, with the Coast Guard Medal, for their selfless dedication and contributions. The ceremony was solemn and deeply moving.