Taoyuan Marine Hakka Culture Festival

In Yong'an Fishing Port, Xinwu District, Taoyuan City, there is a unique culture of the Hakka people living by the sea – drag net fishing. This year, this activity was once again selected by the Hakka Affairs Council as one of the 12th biggest Hakka festivals in Taiwan. The "Marine Hakka Culture Festival" showcases the most beautiful cultural scenery of the Xinwu Hakka community. The festival lets the public experience the process of blowing conchs the way people did in ancient times to call on fishermen to join in drag net fishing together. Each summer, thousands of people participate in the drag net fishing activities. For anyone visiting Xinwu, it’s a must-see spectacle.

(Photo credit: 桃園海客文化藝術季臉書 )

Taiwan ’s Hakka communities usually live in mountainous areas;
those near the sea are relatively rare. Xinwu’s Yong’an Fishing Port is the only Hakka fishing port in Taiwan. This area has two ancient fishing methods, namely, drag net fishing, also known as Taiwanese beach seine, and building fish traps with rocks. Taiwanese beach seine involves using a simple trawling net to fish; it’s one of the ancient fishing methods in Taiwan. In the old days, people used a small boat to take a big fishing net out to the sea where they set the net near the shore. Then after waiting for a while, they use a lot of manpower to drag the net to the shore, along with all the fish caught in it. In the past, blowing a conch was a way for fishermen to call on everyone in the village to help pull in the fishing net. When the sound of the conch is heard, everyone would put down their work at hand and go to the beach to help out. By gathering the strength of everyone, the fish is pulled to shore in a sort of tug-of-war with the sea.

The Hakka ancestors developed this unique marine culture based on their lifestyle of combining agriculture and fishery. The Taoyuan City Government’s Department of Hakka Affairs has planned the “Marine Hakka Culture Festival” for many years in a row, hoping to reproduce the traditional fishing skills of the Taoyuan coastal Hakkas, and invite the public to experience a different kind of Hakka summer. The Marine Hakka Culture Festival is also the only activity in the 12th biggest Hakka festivals that is held at the seaside. The local community also hopes to highlight Hakka marine culture and allow more people to see their lifestyle and culture through this festival.

The coastal area of ​​Xinwu also has the only remaining stone weir culture on the main island of Taiwan. Therefore, in addition to trying to preserve stone weirs, the local government has set up a static exhibition to display exhibits about the stacked stone fish traps, mud brick walls, and fishing net huts. By combining the displays with the old photos and the precious cultural relics of related agricultural and fishing gears, the local government and community hope that visitors will be left with a strong impression of the old coastal scenery and a deep understanding of the seaside Hakka people’s customs.

(Photo credit: 桃園海客文化藝術季臉書 )

Through the Marine Hakka Culture Festival, people can try to rediscover the marine fishery culture of the Hakka ancestors who lived in the coastal area. Through activities such as drag net fishing and building stone weirs, participants will have the opportunity to experience Hakka ancestors’ wisdom of adapting to the natural ecology in the way they fished. The diverse activities can also let everyone understand how the Hakka fishermen coexisted with the sea,
learn more about and love Hakka culture as well.