In the afternoon of 2 October 2017, the Council of Agriculture (COA) of the Executive Yuan hosted a Press Conference on Results of Taiwan’s Work on Combating IUU Fishing in the Conference Hall on the 5th Floor of the Headquarters of the COA. During the conference, apart from exhibiting sample cases of sanctions on illegal fishing and the status of fisheries management, observers and inspectors also showed their at-sea missions and equipment, to let the public and international community see our dedication and results in the implementation of fisheries management as well as demonstrating Taiwan’s determination in combating IUU fishing and safeguarding marine resources.
Joint Maintenance of Marine Resources, Complete Elimination of IUU Fishing
The COA pointed out that combating illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is a common international understanding and goal. According to FAO statistics, global catch from IUU fishing has reached at least US$ 23 billion annually, and IUU fishing activities exist in many countries of the world, seriously threatening the sustainability of marine resources. Major market States such as the USA and the European Union (EU), have established relevant regulations for the purposes. Since 2012, the EU has been auditing the measures for combating IUU fishing taken by countries, and over 20 countries, including Korea and the Philippines, were identified or warned as non-cooperating countries in combating IUU fishing. In 2015, Taiwan also received a formal warning (yellow card) from the EU.
The COA added, it is the duty of Taiwan to improve its distant water fisheries management in assuming its duty as a flag State and reporting obligations as a port State. At the moment, Taiwan’s catch can be exported to the EU as usual, and there is no immediate impact on the industry. However, Taiwan has to work with the EU to combat IUU fishing, including explaining to the EU every six months the progress of its implementation. In case there is no improvement, the EU will identify Taiwan as a non-cooperating country with issuing of a red card, and prohibiting import of fishery products from Taiwan.
Holistic Monitoring and Control; Effective Implementation of Fisheries Management
The COA mentioned that to this end we have actively strengthened the legal base for our fisheries management in order to achieve linkage with the trend of international fisheries management. On 20 July 2016 the three fisheries acts were promulgated, that is, the enactment and amendment of the Distant Water Fisheries Act, and the Act to Govern Investment in the Operation of Foreign Flag Fishing Vessels, and the amendment of the Fisheries Act, along with the amendment and implementation on 20 January 2017 of 15 regulations and 5 notices authorized by the Fisheries Act. These laws and regulations have transposed the measures adopted by international fisheries management organizations into domestic legislation, including such MCS measures as authorization to fish, vessel position monitoring, observer program, landing declaration, port inspection, number of fishing vessels and catch limits, restriction on fishing periods and areas, restriction on the type of fishing gear and fish species, transshipment, and others. With imposition of heavy fine or criminal sanction as the main penalty, supplemented with other management actions such as suspension and revocation of fishing license, and forfeiture of catch, fishing gear and fishing vessel, and clear requirement for the violating vessel to stop fishing and return to a designated port within a given timeframe, as well as imposing additional sanctions to recidivism, the COA has placed stronger actions on deterring IUU fishing activities.
The COA stated that along with the implementation of the fisheries management measures, in order to ensure the fishing interests of fishermen, a 24/7 Fisheries Monitoring Center was established in February this year, allowing fishermen to receive notice from the COA and to minimize the possibility of unintentional or careless violations, as well as enabling the COA to stand at the frontline of the three major oceans along with fishermen, working jointly in the international conservation of fisheries resources.
With the restructure of the legal base for our fisheries and the implementation of the management measures, not only can the interests of law abiding fishermen be secured, but sanctions to those who conduct IUU fishing can also be imposed, thus safeguarding sustainability of fisheries resources, while allowing fishermen and the oceans to have rooms for friendly development.
Along with our fisheries management, Taiwan has carried out port state measures in conformity to the Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (PSMA) adopted by UN-FAO in December 2009, which entered into force on 5 June, 2016. Taiwan welcomes and supports the legally binding international agreement on combating IUU fishing, and with the principle of equality and dignity, international law and domestic law are realized with effort to fulfill the obligations as a port state and flag state.
Jointly, the Council of Agriculture and the Coast Guard Administration initiated Board and Inspection (B&I) on Honduras-flagged carrier “WISDOM SEA REEFER” in the outer sea of Kaohsiung on the evening of 12 July, 2017. It is discovered that the carrier was loaded with catch from fishing vessel suspected to be involved with IUU fishing. Originally, the carrier submitted application to the COA seeking to make transshipment in Port of Kaohsiung and plan to transfer to Viet Nam in June; however, Taiwan was informed in advanced by the government of Thailand that the catch on board may have originate from vessel involved with IUU fishing, and requested Taiwan to conduct inspection. During the Cross-Ministerial Working Group Meeting for held in July, consensus was reached on permitting the vessel to enter port for inspection. The agent of the carrier vessel notified later on the cancelation of plan to dock in Port of Kaohsiung. Further confirmation told that the vessel had a change in navigation course, suspected to make transshipment in the territorial waters of Taiwan. The Council of Agriculture and Coast Guard Administration took the initiative and conducted B&I on the vessel on 12 July. Evidently, the vessel was involved in transshipping IUU catch, and in accordance with article 22 of Act for Distant Water Fisheries, the COA do not permit entrance of such vessel into ports of Taiwan. In addition, Taiwan took further step and informed nearby countries to jointly take measures of deterrence to prevent the catch on board to enter into markets.
The COA further stated that, foreign flag fishing vessels entering the ports of Taiwan are managed under the “Regulations on the Management and Approval of Foreign Flag Fishing Vessels Entering into Ports of the Republic of China”. Foreign flag fishing vessels and carrier vessels subjected to such management must submit application to the COA in conformity to the regulation, and violators would be sanctioned under the Act for Distant Water Fisheries. Presently, total of 2 foreign flag fishing vessel and carrier vessel had been in violation, and fine of one million NT dollar has been imposed under the Act.
Strengthening of International Participation
The COA expressed that in the process of restructuring the fisheries management, Taiwan has entered into cooperation with some 21 countries having close connection with Taiwan’s fisheries. They include Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Thailand, Federated States of Micronesia, Japan, USA, Fiji, Tuvalu, South Africa, Seychelles, Palau, the Philippines, Nauru, Vanuatu, South Korea, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Falkland Islands, and Madagascar. Items of cooperation include verification on the catch from Taiwan’s fishing vessels that land or transship in their ports, confirmation in tracing and exchange of information on the catch documents issued, information exchange on the foreign flag fishing vessels operated by Taiwan nationals, capacity building in fisheries management, and others.
The COA emphasized that it would actively participate in international fisheries management organizations in a persistent manner, to fully implement various international regulations, and intensively and effectively manage our fishing vessels, not only to let the EU see the efforts made by Taiwan in the management of its distant water fisheries, in demonstrating its determination in combating IUU fishing, but also to achieve linkage with the international community, in the concerted efforts in combating IUU fishing, to eliminate the occurrence of IUU fishing activities and the flow of their catch, whereby ensuring a healthy marine ecosystem, as well as sustainable fishing operations.
Contact person: Hong-Yen Huang, Deputy Director-General, Fisheries Agency
Mobile phone: 0920-089165