Taiwan''s fishing industry is kept afloat by migrant workers. Hundreds and thousands of workers from Southeast Asia keep Taiwan''s fishing boats on the seas year in, year out. And in Keelung, every year at the Lunar New Year, the fishermen''s association says "thank you" with a gift of winter clothes. This year, along with volunteers from a local church, the association presented hundreds of blankets and warm clothes to fishermen from across the port city.

A volunteer in a yellow vest helps a migrant fisherman into his new jacket.

Fishermen queue up to pick up their gifts. Keelung Fishermen’s Association and Rerum Novarum Center have donated these winter goods, including heated clothes, jackets and blankets, to migrant worker fishermen in Badouzi.

Chen Wen-chin

Keelung Fishermen’s Association

The church is working with the fishermen’s association. Every year at this time we give them things to keep off the cold, lots of blankets, socks, vests and underwear, so they can have a good New Year just like us.

In the past, secondhand clothes were collected, but this year, due to COVID-19, a generous donation has enabled them to buy 300 brand-new blankets, 300 heated vests and 120 jackets. In total, more than 400 fishermen from Badouzi八斗子, Zhengbin and Shen’ao Fishing Harbors have picked up a New Year winter gift.

Volunteer

Taipei Rerum Novarum Center

They come from Southeast Asia. They haven’t prepared warm clothes like this. Winter in Taiwan is colder so it’s hard for them at the harbor. So we’re coming to give them things to keep warm through the winter.

Chung Chia-ling

Taipei Rerum Novarum Center

We want to give everyone’s gifts directly into the hands of migrant workers, so they can feel our respect for them. It’s also a way to maintain their dignity, so they receive it as a gift and not as an act of charity.

These fishermen have come a long way from home to make a living in Taiwan’s fishing industry. Without them, Taiwan fisheries would be in dire straits. For these Keelung volunteers, offering a gift to say “happy new year” comes naturally.