In March this year, I spent a week in Taiwan as a guest of the Taiwan Fisheries Agency. My hosts had laid on a relentless daily schedule that took in a complete circuit of the island nation, visiting nearly all the major commercial fishing ports, including Taitung on the Pacific Ocean, Tainan and Kaosiung on the South China Sea, Suao on the East China Sea and some smaller ones as well.

In addition, a visit was arranged for me (in the interests of JT readers) to Sealink International Co.'s eel-culture farm at Xuejia in the southwest part of the island.

Since Japan consumes 70 percent of the freshwater eels (unagi) worldwide, of which it gets 80 percent from China and Taiwan, this was too important and interesting an chance to miss. So, after an early morning visit to An Ping fishing port in Tainan, we headed inland over unpaved country roads — seemingly with duck farms in every direction — until we finally reached Xuejia.