Response to Greenpeace report on Taiwanese distant water fisheries
Since 2016, the Fisheries Agency (FA) has been promoting the amendments of deep sea fisheries management regulations proactively. With the Act for Distant Water Fisheries comes into effect on January 20, 2017, the management of Taiwanese distant water fishing fleets under this legal framework has received wide and positive recognition. Therefore, in response to the report on Taiwan’s distant water fisheries published by Greenpeace on May 24, it is regrettable that the Greenpeace cited two cases that happened more than two years ago and have already been brought into judicial process, as well as one case that subject to foreign jurisdictions, to create confrontation between the crew members and the whole fishing industry. The report also ignored the progress and efforts the FA has made during the past two years on developing and implementing relevant regulations. The FA hope that the Greenpeace could provide constructive suggestions on enhancing the fisheries sector instead of a smear campaign, so as to truly contribute to the resource conservation and human rights protection.
As pointed out by the FA, enhancing the rights and benefits of the crew members employed overseas has been a primary concern for the Agency. Information regarding the polices and explanations can be found in the press releases titled “Taiwan takes steps to continue enhancing the rights and benefits of foreign crew members on distant water fishing vessels” and “The Fisheries Agency acts proactively to enhance rights and benefits for foreign crew members”, published on 14 March and 17 May respectively. The FA is also committed to a continued review process for legal framework and their implementation to firmly enhance the rights and benefits for foreign crew members.
Responses to the individual cases from the Greenpeace report are as follows:
1. The case of Giant Ocean International Fishery Co. Ltd (Pty) is a human trafficking case which took place seven (7) years ago in Cambodia. The Taiwan competent authorities had been requesting the criminal evidence and court decisions of this case from Cambodia through judicial processes at the time, but no such information were received. On the other hand, the FA invited scholars and experts to review accessible information on those nationals suspected to engage in this case and referred the case to district prosecutor’s office. In the year 2016, the prosecutor’s office of the relevant district has closed the case due to the lack of any criminal evidence. As the Giant Ocean case involves criminal charge yet no actual proof of the crime was found after the review of judiciary authority, the FA could not identify the involved personnel as guilty simply based on allegations. It is also important to note that Giant Ocean International Fishery Co. Ltd (Pty) is not on the list of the agencies authorized to employ foreign crew members overseas.
2. The case of fishing vessel Fu Tzu Chun dates back to August 2014, during which time the FA had imposed penalties on both the captain and boat owner for their failure to report for the sick crew member and take actions to provide necessary medical treatment. In addition to a certain amount of fine, the license of the captain was were suspended for some period, and the qualification of the agent involved was also withdrawn. As for whether the deceased crew member had been suffered from abuse before death, the case is still active and is under investigation of the national judiciary authority.
3. The Tunago No. 61 case is a homicide committed on a Vanuatu-flagged fishing vessel, while the deceased captain was from China and the crew allegedly committed the crime were from Indonesia respectively. Therefore, Taiwan is not the flag state of the vessel, and neither the victim nor the perpetrator is a Taiwan national.
Strengthened fisheries enforcement recognized by the European Union (EU)
After two years of intensive consultations with the EU on the strengthening of distant water fisheries management, progress have been made to meet the current objectives and EU’s requirements. Ms. Madeleine Majorenko, the Head of Office for the European Economic and Trade Office, had openly acknowledged the efforts Taiwan has made on the improvement of various measures. For the future, the EU expected that the illegal benefits of the violators will be suitably deprived so as to go further in deterring IUU fishing activities, which is also the objective of the FA. To this end, the FA will continue to cooperate with the EU in combatting illegal, unreported and unauthorized (IUU) fishing activities.
Contact: Deputy Director, Lin Kuo-Ping