By Shelley Shan / Staff Reporter
Water sports are allowed on most rivers and lakes in Taiwan, Ministry of Transport and Communications officials said, amid calls from water sports enthusiasts to open up more of the country’s waterways by scrapping Articles 36 and 60 of the Tourism Development Law (發展觀光條例).
Article 36 states that authorities may impose restrictions on the type, scope, duration and behaviors of aquatic activities for the safety of tourists and may announce the waterways on which such activities are prohibited, while the Article 60 states that water sports business operators who violate Article 36 are liable to a fine of up to NT$150,000.
In September last year, the Alliance of Open Policy for Water Sports proposed on the National Development Council’s Public Policy Network Participation Platform that the two articles be abolished. While 5,000 people on the platform supported the proposal, the Tourist Office must formally respond to it.
The group said the two articles allow the office to authorize local governments to regulate aquatic activities on waterways under their jurisdiction, which often has the effect of restricting such activities rather than encouraging them.
“Articles 36 and 60 of the law have hindered the development of water sports, and the bureau should immediately amend the Regulations Governing Water Leisure Activities (水域遊憩活動管理辦法), the rules for implementing Article 36” , the group said.
“To change the regulations, the office should first consult with experts and carefully review the amendment before making it public,” the group said. “The sports administration should also announce precautions for water sports.”
Differences in how local governments handle water sports have also caused a lot of confusion, the group said.
“There are two signs on the shores of Yilan County’s Longtan Lake (龍潭湖) announcing the fine for violating the ban on water sports, one set up by the Yilan County government and the ‘other by the Tourism Bureau,’ the group said. “The office sign shows a much heavier fine than the Yilan County government sign, although they prohibit the same activity.”
The Yilan county government has regulated the use of small boats and floats that are not shaped like boats, he said.
The county applies the rules to operators of small boat businesses, while prohibiting individuals from engaging in rafting and other water activities, the group said.
Local governments only ban water sports because they don’t want to be held responsible for accidents, the group said, adding that the government should educate people about water sports safety instead of imposing bans.
Regulations governing water recreation activities generally allow water sports on rivers and lakes, but specify exceptions, the ministry said, adding that local governments have the right to restrict or prohibit water sports in certain areas. to protect tourists.
The office said at a meeting on April 22 – which representatives of the Alliance of Open Policy for Water Sports, experts and local government officials were invited to join – said local governments should hold a public hearing before imposing regulations on water sports.
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