Friday, February 5, 2010

Salt ponds

Taiwan's southwestern coast is lined with salt evaporation ponds. Salt was made from seawater from at least the 17th century until 2002, when the industry was closed down because it was no longer economically viable. Some of the ponds have been converted into fish farms but many have been abandoned. As quasi-wetlands, they're rich in snails, little fish and the birds who feed on them. In Tainan's Jingzaijiao, where I took this photo, small quantities of salt are still made using traditional methods, so school groups and tourists can learn about the process.

Remnants of the salt industry can be seen in Tainan, Chiayi and on Kinmen. Salt used to be a government monopoly; the salt bureau had its own police force to make sure no one stole salt from the ponds. There's a salt museum in Tainan.

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