Tilapia being considered as No.1 in terms of fish exports and volume of production in Taiwan. 

By Zac Sarian

Tilapia is not just for eating. If you visit the Taiwan Tilapia Ecological and Creative Park at the Kouhu township in Yunlin County, you will be pleasantly surprised to know that there are valuable products derived from the fish. One of them is collagen extracted from tilapia fish scales.

The literature from the ecological park explains: “Collagen is a kind of protein. About 30-40 percent [of what] forms our body is collagen, an important element to maintain the balance of our health.”

In Taiwan, tilapia is grown to a big size in a very clean environment.

The collagen extracted from tilapia fish scales is drinkable. It is packed in 15 ml bottles and is consumed at one bottle per day, preferably before meals or on an empty stomach. A gift pack of 16 bottles costs NT$6,000, equivalent to ₱10,800 in Philippine money. The collagen can also be used for facial care. It is diluted with a small amount of water before applying on the skin.

Another new product being developed at the Ecological Park is a corneal shield for the eyes, also derived from fish scales. The product is now being tested on laboratory animals like rabbits.

Some people may have difficulty imagining that tilapia skin can actually be an excellent material for making bags, belts, and other fashion accessories. The Ecological Park has what it calls the Tilapia Leather Series.

Another product they have is the Beauty Care Series, which includes skin moisturizers. In the Collagen Fabric Series, collagen is applied to fabrics to add anti-UV properties and create static electricity-resistant fabrics and skin protection fabrics.

Harvesting tilapia.

The Tilapia Ecological and Creative Park, which was established in 2015, has become a tourist destination with six Theme Areas. Area A consists of an assorted seafood shop where visitors can buy packs of top-selling seafoods, both frozen and freshly prepared. Area B is the Savory Kitchen. Here the visitor can experience cooking different tilapia preparations. 

Area C is the Food-Tasting Room. While tasting the delicious tilapia dishes, visitors also learn how a poor, primitive fishery village like Kouhu was turned into the Taiwan Tilapia.

Ecological and Creative Park. Area D is the Tilapia Creative Park, while Area E is the Collagen Beauty Formula area. The collagen-made cosmetics and beauty care products are necessities for a lady’s makeup package. On the other hand, the black garlic is a strong source of vitality and energy both for adults and children.

The Taiwan Tilapia Ecological and Creative Park is a project of the Kouhu Fisheries Cooperative based in the township of Kouhu in Yunlin County. It is the brainchild of Wang Yifeng, whose family has been in the fishery business for many years. After graduating from college, he returned to his home village and took over management of the business. His innovative ideas have resulted in the new products derived from tilapia.

His company continues to produce processed tilapia products for local sales as well as for export. Every day, the company processes three tons of tilapia. Taiwan tilapia produced in Kouhu are cultured in a very sanitary environment. The fish are free of heavy metals and chemical residues.

This story appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s August 2017 issue.