Reawakening Nanfang’ao: A Fishing Harbor’s Cultural Star Rises

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2017 / October

Lee Shan Wei /photos courtesy of Jimmy Lin /tr. by Jonathan Barnard


An old fishing harbor that is nearing its centennial, Nan­fang’ao is at a crossroads. Like a setting sun, its former glory once reflected gorgeous colors against the clouds as it sank into the horizon. The night sky brought the joys of new growth. Now, as dawn arrives with a rising tide lapping against the shore, we awaken to find this harbor town bathed in an entirely new light.

 


Located in Yi­lan County’s Su’ao Township, Nan­fang’ao is a pearl at the edge of the Pacific. It was the first modern fishing harbor constructed in Taiwan, and its outstanding natural conditions have kept fishermen loyal to it.

Since its establishment in 1923, Nan­fang’ao has consistently ranked among Taiwan’s fishing harbors with the largest hauls, including 99% of the island’s mackerel. The deep Ryu­kyu Trench conveniently ends just offshore. It functions like a freight elevator, lifting and disgorging the rich marine bounty of the Ku­ro­shio Current. The schools of fish that migrate right past the harbor engage in feeding frenzies here.

These ideal natural conditions—the stuff of fisher­men’s dreams—have supported consistently large hauls of fish. A century ago, the town attracted fishermen from all over to put down roots. Cai Yuan­long, chairman of the Su’ao Fishermen’s Association, notes with pride, “In its heyday, Nan­fang’ao had the highest population density in Taiwan.”

A new image for a new century

With smaller catches and the contraction of the area’s once thriving coral industry, Nan­fang’ao’s population has been in steady decline over recent years. Its mottled old houses bear silent witness to the passage of time and the changing local fortunes. Although the bustle and hubbub of the boomtown are long gone, fishing boats can still fill the harbor, moored in tight rows.

On a fall afternoon with a gentle sea breeze, the dappled light dances across the water’s surface. By piles of stretched-out fishing nets at the edge of the harbor, deckhands with weathered faces drip sweat as they meticulously mend frays and tears.

Sporadically, fishing boats return to unload their hauls, and the deckhands and auctioneers, cigarettes dangling from their lips, strike up conversations with the old captains as they unhurriedly await the arrival of trucks to take the fish from the harbor. Yet amid this languid atmosphere, change is brewing. Nan­fang’ao, a coastal town blessed with great natural beauty, is getting an image makeover.

“It’s like I’m in a race against time, because chairmen serve for only four years,” says Cai Yuan­long, who took the reins as the 19th chairman of the Su’ao Fishermen’s Association in April. “The exhaustion of fish stocks would be a disaster for mankind. In the future, we’ll have to show our love for the earth by firmly implementing environmental protections.” He has a mental blueprint for an environmentally minded Greater Nan­fang’ao. His plan starts with a focus on resolving the traffic congestion experienced locally on holidays, and then turns to raising economic efficiency.

Electric cars will help to reduce emissions, and the construction of a mackerel processing plant will turn the area’s ample and varied catch throughout the year into a variety of foodstuffs. That should help to moderate the impact of fish price swings and increase fishermen’s incomes. Pointing to the Zhu Dayu Culture Museum with its wide assortment of processed foods for sale, he proudly notes, “Everyone who has tried our products gives them a thumbs-up. I’m confident that we can promote and market them to the outside.”

There will also be a mackerel museum, which will document the brilliant history of the fishing harbor. “Connecting industry with culture is a future development goal for Nan­fang’ao.” Cai is quite certain that this is the direction the harbor needs to be taking at its centennial. Only by treasuring and documenting local history and culture, as well as promoting fun and in-depth tours, can the area attract tourists from all over to stop and explore.

From ocean current to global fame

Mackerel fishing has been an economic lifeline for Nanfang’ao. But the truth is that mackerel hauls have declined by one-third over the last decade. The fish are also averaging only two-thirds their former size. And the roes, once quite plump, are strikingly smaller too. To people in the know, these are warning signs that point clearly to overfishing. Fish stocks desperately need to recover. Consequently, strong calls are being made for the adoption of environmentally friendly fishing techniques, so that egg-bearing fish can peacefully propagate and the ocean’s bounty can continually replenish itself.

In July of 2017 some determined environmentalists, including Chen Jia­feng and Li Hou-­tsung, paddled canoes along a mackerel migration path with banners declaring “mackerels come home.” Starting from Nan­fang’ao, they courageously entered the Ku­ro­shio Current, reaching Japan’s Ishi­gaki Island 40 hours later.

Self-powered, this magnificent feat was nonetheless aided by modern technology, with electronic equipment ensuring the boats’ safety as they completed the historic journey. The trip by private citizens garnered reports in Japanese media, bringing international attention to Nan­­fang’ao’s proud slogan: “homeland of mackerel.” The hope is that the endeavor, however small in scale, can encourage conservation efforts that will help mackerel populations migrating on the Ku­ro­shio Current to quickly regain their previous vitality.

Revival: A view to the future

The Yi­lan County Government, the Su’ao Township Office, the Su’ao Fishermen’s Association and other bodies are placing emphasis on the future development of this century-old fishing harbor, outlining a series of steps aimed at fostering “seas full of mackerel; blue, clear seawater; and first-hand understanding of the sea.” The overarching goal is to revive the fortunes of this jewel of a harbor.

The sources of income for Nan­fang­ao’s fishing industry vary by the season. Mackerel, mahi-mahi, marlin, shark, and tuna all make their marks at different times of the year. As the catch varies, so too do the boats and techniques. The wide variety of specialized gear and techniques is fascinating.

But if these fishing methods are to continue to be part of local life, there is a need for a constant supply of new recruits, for younger fishermen who are willing to brave fierce weather as they hone their skills. “Catching fish isn’t like driving a car, where gaining a license is all you need to hit the road. Without three to five years of training, fishermen will often come back to port empty handed, leaving the ship’s owner with nothing but a bill for fuel,” explains Liao Da­qing, owner of the Nan­fang’ao Culture and History Studio. It’s important that experienced fishermen, who are walking repositories of fishing knowledge, can pass along the wisdom they have acquired over a lifetime.

In recent years, local government leaders have continually launched efforts to clean and dredge the harbor, but it is hard to prevent sediment from accumulating. “If you ask why the water in this channel is so clear, the answer is that flowing water was the source.” Liao quotes that famous line of the Song-Dynasty Neo-Confucianist scholar Zhu Xi (1130‡1200) to emphasize that the only true cure for harbor sedimentation is the free flow of water. Just to the south of Basin 2 of the fishing harbor is ­Neipi Beach, which faces the open ocean. If several culverts could be constructed there, they could bring in seawater, which could serve to naturally flush away the accumulated sediment. With water freely flowing, the harbor could stay clean and clear year round.

Mackerel Culture Festival

The 2017 Mackerel Culture Festival will be celebrated in Nan­fang’ao on October 7 and 8. There will be a rich assortment of folk activities aimed at expressing gratitude to the gods. The gold and coral Mazu in the ­Jin’an Temple and the gold and jade Mazus in the Nan­tian Temple will serve as guardian deities, welcoming the fish-themed floats as they parade by. This year is the 20th anniversary of the festival’s founding, and the All-Japan Mackerel Association has been invited to attend. That group in turn has extended an invitation for representatives of Nan­fang’ao to visit Japan’s mackerel festival in November. The two sides are thus building a strong friendship. This year’s celebration in Nan­fang’ao will also feature cultural exhibits and experiential activities, as well as, of course, much seafood to gorge on. All will serve to show off Nan­fang’ao’s intoxicating charms.

Nanfang’ao’s beauty lies in its unique melding of nature and culture. If you visit the town early in the morning and stand on the kilometer-long ­Neipi Beach at dawn, you will notice the light reddening like the face of a blushing young girl. The rosy clouds and glorious hues permeating the sky at that time of day offer a gorgeous, ever-changing vista that has long attracted photographers and has earned the town a reputation as a paradise for painters. It’s a view that will forever hold people’s attention.

繁體中文

世紀南方澳 打造人文自然新亮點

文‧李珊瑋 圖‧林格立

迎向百年的古老漁港──南方澳,正站在世紀交替的十字路口。以往的輝煌,彷若瞬息幻滅的夕陽,無盡淒美地演繹著斑斕的彩霞。夜幕低垂下,多元重生的喜悅,正悄悄地萌芽。在一波波黎明的潮喚中,悠悠甦醒,重現炫目的嶄新光芒。

 


 

矗立在台灣東北角的南方澳,像一顆躺臥在太平洋臂彎的珍珠,是台灣第一座開發啟用的現代漁港。橫置於前的陸連島,形成了阻絕驚天駭浪的屏障。渾然天成的地理環境,優越到讓人走過百年,不忍離棄。

民國12年開港以來,南方澳一直是台灣漁獲量的領頭羊,全台百分之九十九的鯖魚,都來自南方澳。花東沿岸的海溝斷層,恰恰在南方澳外海,像電梯般緩緩推升,端上黑潮中豐盛的海藻生物,迴游的魚群則守在港灣之前,張著大口爭相吞食。

如此得天獨厚的夢幻條件,讓南方澳的漁船日日滿載豐收。這股無法抵擋的魅力,一世紀前,就吸引了各地的漁家,在南方澳落地生根。宜蘭縣蘇澳區漁會理事長蔡源龍驕傲地說:「南方澳全盛時期,人口密度是全台第一。」青少年時期,就跟隨父親上船作業的他,一甲子的歲月,伴隨著南方澳漁業的發展。「那時候,攤商沿著碼頭一字排開,吆喝聲此起彼落,日日生意興隆。安檢所,配合漁船出港作業,徹夜燈火通明,南方澳真的像是一座不夜城呢!」談起昔日的榮景,蔡源龍眉飛色舞的說:「那時候漁船出港,可是要排隊的喲!」

迎向新世紀,打造新風貌

歲月的沖刷,耀眼的珍珠也會被淘洗發黃。隨著漁獲量的遞減、珊瑚產量的限縮,南方澳的人口逐漸外移,老舊斑駁的房舍,無言的刻寫著日月滄桑。昔日的紛亂吵嚷早已不再,但是港灣中櫛比鱗次的漁船,依舊沉靜地蓄勢待發。

秋日的午後,光陰的腳步在徐徐的海風中,悠閒的晃蕩。港邊綿延鋪排著一堆堆的魚網,一群被海風鏤刻出滿面風霜的漁工們,在日頭下揮灑汗水,熟練靈巧地補著破網。

零星歸來的漁船傾卸著漁貨,拍賣師和漁工們叼著菸,和老船長們開講,輕鬆地等著裝載漁貨的卡車入場。凝滯的氛圍,醞釀著蛻變的前兆,天生麗質的南方澳,正要走出不同的風貌。

「我像在和時間賽跑,因為理事長一任四年,很快就過去了。」今年四月接任宜蘭縣蘇澳區漁會第十九屆理事長的蔡源龍,對南方澳有著深厚的情感,正細密的規劃著漁港轉型重生的新貌。「漁業資源的枯竭,將是全人類的浩劫,未來一定要用愛護地球的心,落實環保。」蔡源龍語重心長的說。他心中的藍圖,是要打造一座具有環保意識的「南方澳大園區」,解決目前假日交通壅塞情況,並提升整體經濟效益。

「南方澳大園區」中,將以電動車做為交通工具,減少廢氣的排放。創立「鯖魚產業工廠」,將南方澳一年四季多元豐富的魚獲,製成各種加工品。不但可以平穩調節魚價,增加漁民收益;更要把南方澳加工品塑造成大家信賴的品牌,走向國際。站在南方澳第三漁港旁「祝大漁」物產文創館內,蔡源龍指著琳琅滿目的加工品,自豪的說:「試吃過我們商品的人,都豎起大拇指說讚,我有信心把它推廣出去。」

大園區中還將設立「鯖魚館」,收錄南方澳自建港以來的輝煌歷史人文。入園的遊客,不僅能吃到美味,更能享受心靈的饗宴。「產業和文化結合,是南方澳未來發展的目標。」蔡源龍非常肯定這是百年漁港重生的方向。

南方澳商圈發展協會理事長,也是文史工作者,三剛鐵工廠文物館館長廖大慶說:「在經濟發展前期,要將產業注入人文,增厚底蘊;在經濟水平提升後,要讓文化產業化,打響南方澳的國際知名度。」唯有珍惜在地歷史沿革和文物,培育饒富趣味的深度導覽,讓文化生根茁壯,才能長遠吸引各方遊客駐足探索。

橫斷黑潮,讓鯖魚在國際發光

鯖魚是南方澳產業經濟的命脈。但是鯖魚的捕獲量卻在十年間,下滑了三分之一;魚身大小也只有昔日的三分之二;以往飽滿碩大的魚卵,尺寸也明顯縮小。這個重大的警訊,讓地方有心人士非常焦慮,顯現鯖魚有「過漁」的現象,亟需復育。於是大力宣導採用友善漁法,讓抱卵的鯖魚,安心孕育,使海洋生命力綿綿不絕。

今年7月,事前縝密醞釀了兩年,活動發起人陳嘉峰和李後璁等環保人士,舉著「海鯖迴家」的旗幟,用堅定的毅力,為守護鯖魚而划。順著鯖魚迴游的路徑,乘坐獨木舟,由南方澳出發,勇渡黑潮,在40個小時後,抵達石垣島。

浩瀚的汪洋中,四艘纖細的獨木舟,益發顯得渺小,隨著浪潮,猛烈地上下起伏搖晃。憑借著一股傻勁,在烈陽下,在一片漆黑的波濤裡,一行人只顧埋著頭奮力划槳。洶湧的洋流,一度把獨木舟沖離航道,十分危急。還好天助人助,一次又一次與大海對抗角力,終於又回歸正軌。原本預期要花費三、四天時間才能到達石垣港,卻出乎意料的順利,完成這項不可能的任務。

這項自力完成的壯舉,拜現代科技之利,從出發到抵達,一路都有電子設備監看護航,讓這趟冒險行程平安完成,並留下極具歷史意義的完整紀錄。這次民間自發性的破冰之行,獲得日方媒體的報導,讓「鯖魚的故鄉」南方澳,驕傲的在異國發聲。南方澳的大漁旗也迎向陽光,飄揚在石垣島的港灣。更期待這項微小的努力,能夠激起保育的漣漪,讓迴游在黑潮中的鯖魚,早日回復昔日的生機。

復育四部曲,打造海鯖願景

宜蘭縣政府和蘇澳鎮公所、蘇澳區漁會等相關單位,也十分重視百年漁港的前瞻發展,正在規劃復育四部曲「海鯖、海青、海清、海親」,要讓南方澳這粒寶石,繁華再現。

南方澳獨特的漁業資源,使耄耋高齡的老船長們,即使面對大環境嚴峻的挑戰,也不忍放棄本業。「我們都是做一輩子的。」這項堅持,讓南方澳深具特色。因為南方澳的漁產,是隨著季節的轉化,而有不同。鯖魚、鬼頭刀、旗魚、鯊魚、鮪魚依時報到。隨著魚種的差異,船隻和魚法也隨之改變,各具特色,十分有趣。

但是要延續這些魚法,需要源源不斷的生力軍,勇於面對風浪的喜怒無常,鍛鍊出剽悍的對抗能耐。「捕魚太苦了,我不要孩子來接。」和大海搏鬥一甲子,滿頭銀絲的老船長們異口同聲的說。「捕魚不像開車,有了駕照就可以上路,沒有三、五年的磨練,往往空艙而回,連油錢都要挖老本。」廖大慶憂心的指出。要抓緊時間,讓這些國寶級的活字典,把一生寶貴的經驗,永續傳承。大海是深奧的寶藏,怎麼能想像海洋環繞的台灣,會出現沒有討海人的光景?

凡事有利就有弊,有了堤防堅實的保衛,卻犧牲了流動的港水,造成淤積。這些年來,歷任地方首長不斷努力淨港,蔡源龍上任後也身體力行,帶領群眾打撈港灣垃圾,宣導垃圾不落海,把垃圾帶回陸地丟棄。但是港灣裡依舊看不到魚蝦,連頑固的海蟑螂都活不下去。

「問渠那得清如許,為有源頭活水來。」廖大慶引用南宋大儒朱熹名句,印證唯有疏濬,才能治本。第二漁港外的內埤沙灘,與太平洋近在咫尺,如能建構數條暗渠,引進海水,就能活化港灣,有了流動性活水,自然可以終年清澈潔淨。

鯖魚文化節,開鑼踩街迎賓

10月7、8兩日舉辦的2017鯖魚文化節,是南方澳的地方盛事,在豐富精彩的民俗活動中,傳遞出對上天的敬畏和感恩。遠近馳名的進安宮金身珊瑚媽祖和南天宮金玉媽祖恆久守護,歡喜地看著象徵滿載豐收的「大漁旗」鼓風飛揚。今年是二十週年慶,「全日本鯖魚連合會」亦受邀與會,並邀請南方澳在11月間回訪,參加日本鯖魚節活動,彼此交流,建立友誼。今年的活動中,有靜態的藝文展示,有動態的體驗實作,更有美味的海鮮盡情享受,展現南方澳醉人的亮點。

南方澳的美,美在自然與人文的結合。如果清晨造訪南方澳,站在綿延一公里的內埤海岸線上,晨曦乍現中,天際一抹嫣紅,像少女羞赧的臉龐,美到令人心醉。伴著日出和雲彩,隨意地揮灑出滿天的綺麗光輝。這幅千變萬化的璀璨美景,讓眾多攝影家甘心摸黑守候,更是畫家們臨摹的天堂,永遠緊扣住世人的目光。

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