Since moving to Kaohsiung two years ago, the grand scale of Cianjhen Fishing Port has encouraged me to make successive visits. Cianjhen Fishing Port, home to much of Taiwan’s pelagic fishing fleet, is the country’s most significant pelagic fishing base. Throughout the year, Taiwan’s pelagic fishing vessels travel to various fishing grounds in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian oceans to catch seasonal delicacies. These fishing fleets have made Taiwan one of the world’s leading fishing nations.
A few months ago, my friends and I hosted a boat trip from Shaochuantou Pier-1 to Cianjhen Fishing Port. Embarking at 3 p.m., the participants were filled with excitement, despite a fierce sea wind and a temperature of 12 degrees Celsius. Heading toward Cianjhen Fishing Port, we salivated over photo opportunities throughout the journey. At the port, everything was silent. Being the only boat sailing at that time, while on the water we could hear a buzz of voices from the large port facilities nearby.
When the boat docked at Yugang Central 2nd Road in Cianjhen Fishing Port, the passengers could not wait to explore the port area and local culture. The prosperity of the fishing port has brought into being a port-industry cluster. Kaohsiung Fishermen’s Association, other oceanic administrations, a super-freezing facility, and large frozen storage facilities are all nearby. Trucks lining up in front of a two-store wooden building, connected to an ice factory across the road via a skybridge, commanded our attention. As soon as a driver made a loud request to have his vehicle filled with ice cubes, ice poured from the skybridge. This sight was a prelude to the hustle and bustle of the market itself. Approaching, a surge of traffic on the streets reflected the vibrancy of the fish market. Around the fish market, ordinary daily activities captivated us. We saw local residents shaving ice for seafood, elderly folk wearing rain shoes while carrying their breakfast, and street vendors selling seafood congee.
When the boats that fish closer to shore docked and were unloaded, there was a buzz of excitement. The day’s catch was quickly delivered to Cianjhen Fish Market. The market’s busiest hours are from 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. We arrived during this busy period to better observe the market at its liveliest.
In one corner, more than 20 potential buyers weighed baskets loaded with fish. Because the market has such an abundance of oceanic produce, chefs, wholesale businessmen and fishmongers are among the regulars. Through fishmongers and chefs, seasonal oceanic products end up on household dining tables. The market also welcomes individual customers seeking fresh seafood for the family’s dinner table. When we finally left the market, the warmer temperature outside soon lifted the overwhelming impression made on us by fish market.
Having visited Cianjhen Fishing Port and Cianjhen Fish Market, I now truly appreciate fresh fish, and the efforts made by the fishermen who haul it from distant seas to household kitchens. I have watched Tsukiji Wonderland, a Japanese documentary about Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market, said to be the largest fish market in the world. It will relocate to Toyosu Market ahead of preparations for the 2020 Summer Olympics. In Kaohsiung, as in Tokyo, residents purchase direct from fishermen, and beloved local fish markets are a deeply ingrained part of local culture and history. Cianjhen Fish Market was originally situated in Hamasen and called Gushan Fish Market, as it was near Gushan Ferry Station. Kaohsiung’s fisheries industry grew to importance during the 1895-1945 Japanese colonial period. The Japanese authorities constructed a fishing port and built a railway line, connecting the port area to Gushan Fish Market, to transport oceanic produce. Hamasen was situated at the end of the railway line. By the 1960s, many fishing vessels were too large to dock at Gushan, so the government built Cianjhen Fishing Port as a replacement. The glamour of Cianjhen Fishing Port signified the doom of Gushan Fish Market.
The nighttime boat trip we joined was specially arranged for us, yet it is certainly worth exploring Cianjhen Fish Market if you have any opportunity.
Cianjhen Fish Market
Address: No.2, Yugang Central 1st Rd., Cianjhen District, Kaohsiung City