Sulfuric Fire Fishing

A traditional method of catching Japanese scaled sardines (Sardinella zunasi) was formally recognized as a cultural heritage asset in Taiwan in 2015. This year, tourists are being offered a chance to experience the annual harvest up close.

Sulfuric fire fishing involves the use of sulfur, a resource abundant in northern Taiwan, to produce fire from the gas produced when it comes into contact with water. Boat crews use the fire to attract the fish and corral them close to the shore. Scoop nets are used to catch the sardines, which are prized in Japanese and Taiwanese cuisine.

By 2013, only four boats were still using this traditional method. The spectacle attracted photographers and onlookers. Concerns were raised that the tradition was dying out.

The sardines enter waters in northern Taiwan around early May, and the fishing season lasts around three months.

This year, starting from July 2, the Agriculture bureau has arranged half-day to two day tour packages that provides an opportunity to get on board to view the spectacle with prices ranging from NTD1450-5580.

scoop nets and fire are used to catch sardines in nothern Taiwan
Fishermen in New Taipei City use a traditional method that utilizes sulfur to produce flammable gas. The bright fire brings sardines to the surface, which are then scooped up by fishermen deploying scoop nets.

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