Investigations on the cases of fishing vessel Fuh Sheng No.11 and Chin Chang No.6 concluded, and serious punishment imposed
The Fisheries Agency of Taiwan has finished investigation on the case of fishing vessel Fuh Sheng No.11 for allegedly in violation of International Labour Organization (ILO) Work in Fishing Convention (C-188) and the case of fishing vessel Chin Chang No.6 for catching significant amount of prohibited shark species (silky shark).
According to the investigation, the fishing vessel Fuh Sheng No.11 is deemed as in violation of not submitting catch report accurately, employing foreign crew without authorization, crew salary lower that minimum wage, overtime working hours, contravention on labor contract (early termination), and failing to carry out living/caring service. As a result, a fine of 3.75 million New Taiwan (NT) dollars is imposed and the fishing license of the vessel is suspended for five (5) months. In addition, for possible violation of the Human Trafficking Prevention Act, the Agency had forwarded the case to the Kaohsiung District Prosecutor Office on 1st October for further investigation.
As for the case of fishing vessel Chin Chang No.6, it is deemed as illegal retaining on board silky shark and oceanic whitetip shark. As a result, the vessel operator and the captain is imposed with a fine of NT$11.4 million, and the fishing license of the vessel and Fishing Vessel Crew Identification is suspended for six (6) months respectively.
Investigation on Fuh Sheng No.11 was conducted in three places across different countries for justice
The Fisheries Agency indicated that after the vessel Fuh Sheng No.11 was accused of violation of ILO Work in Fishing Convention in Cape Town, South Africa, the Agency had launched investigation of the first stage immediately. After the vessel left Port of Cape Town, South Africa on 27th June 2018, the vessel had been closely monitored by its Fisheries Monitoring Center (FMC) to have the first hand information on its voyage and the expected date of entering into the ports of Taiwan. When the vessel entered into Port of Kaohsiung on 13th September 2018, the Agency then launched investigation of the second stage. Later on, with the assistance of non-governmental organization (NGO), the Agency has acquired interview information from former crew members in Indonesia. The investigation was concluded on 29th September 2018, and the major results are as the follows.
Violation against Regulations for vessels proceeding to the Atlantic Ocean for fishing operation
The Fisheries Agency indicated that the fishing vessel Fuh Sheng No.11 is authorized to engage in albacore fisheries in the South Atlantic Ocean. In accordance with the relevant regulations, the vessel can only land or transship catches in the designated foreign port. During the period from 7th December 2017 to 13th September 2018, the fishing vessel had ever entered into Port of Cape Town, South Africa and Kaohsiung Port for landing, and the South Africa authority and the Fisheries Agency of Taiwan has dispatched personnel to conduct landing inspection respectively.
During the inspection, no violation of retaining prohibited shark species onboard or the rules of carcass/fin ratio was found. However, according to the interview with the vessel captain and crew, it is confirmed that the vessel had caught prohibited shark species, such as hammerhead shark, thresher shark, and oceanic whitetip shark, but those catches were not retained on board.
Though there is no evidence that the vessel had retained onboard prohibited shark species, it is evident that the vessel did not duly recorded the numbers of discarded prohibited shark species on the electronic logbook (E-logbook) system. Therefore, for such act, the vessel operator and captain is imposed a fine of NT$ one (1) million and NT$ 200 thousand respectively.
Violation against Regulations for overseas employment of foreign crew members
When the vessel Fuh Sheng No.11 arrived in Port of Kaohsiung on 13th September 2018, a series of investigation were launched: On 13th and 14th September, the Fisheries Agency has conduct investigation, jointly with the Marine Bureau and Labor Affairs Bureau of Kaohsiung City Government, on the right and benefit of crew, occupational safety and health, labor inspection, living/caring service for foreign crew members; On 21st September, the Agency had interviewed the vessel operator, captain, and employment agency of Fuh Sheng No. 11; In the second half of September, the Agency, with the assistance of NGO, also acquires interview information of former crew members in Indonesia.
According to the obtained information, as well as the result of relevant investigation, it is determined that under the jurisdiction of the Agency, the vessel did violate regulations for crew salary lower than minimum wage, contravention of labor contract (early termination), and failing to carry out living/caring service for foreign crew. In addition, the crew members also reflect that the captain and Filipino officer may have beaten up the rest of the crew members.
As a result, the Agency imposes a fine of NT$ 250 thousand and suspension of fishing license for five (5) months against the vessel operator. In addition, for unauthorized employment of foreign crew, a fine of additional NT$300 thousand is imposed. Therefore, for crew management, the operator is imposed with a fine totally NT$ 550 thousand and suspension of fishing license for five (5) months. For the employment agent, a fine of NT$ two (2) million is imposed for not signing contract with operator and crew. As for the possible violation of Human Trafficking Prevention Act, the Fisheries Agency has referred the case to the Kaohsiung District Prosecutor Office for investigation.
Concrete evidence indicating F/V Chin Chang No.6 catching substantial silky sharks and oceanic whitetip sharks
Fisheries Agency stated that authorized inspectors assigned by this Agency conducted the landing inspection on F/V Chin Chang No. 6 on September 13. Throughout the whole process, photographs and videotape were taken for collecting evidence. Over 30 metric tons of silky sharks and oceanic whitetip sharks were found in the fish holds of such vessel, and all of the prohibited catch was confiscated. Vessel owner as well as the captain also confessed to this Agency on September 26 that they have committed the violation. In accordance with Article 36 of the Act for Distant Water Fisheries, this Agency imposes a fine of 9.5 million NTD on the vessel owner and suspends the fishing license for 6 months. In addition, the captain concerned is inflicted with a fine of 1.9 million NTD and suspension of Fishing Vessel Crew Identification for 6 months. The illegal catch is also destroyed by this Agency.
Demonstrating Taiwan’s determination to enforce the law and regulations for protecting rights and benefits and legal operators
The Fisheries Agency pointed out that Taiwan is one of the major fishing countries in the world. To conform with the international fisheries management trend, the Taiwan Government has transposed relevant conservation and management measures adopted by the international fisheries management organizations into its domestic law and regulations. Besides, the level of penalty has been greatly enhanced, with which the Government can confiscate the catch and fishing gears concerned in addition to imposing huge amount of fine and suspension/revocation of fishing licenses. By now, the Act for Distant Water Fisheries has been entering into force for more than 1.5 years. The Fisheries Agency takes this opportunity to once again call on all of the distant water fisheries industry to comply with both the domestic and international rules and fulfill the responsibility of self-management. Apart from tackling illegal fishing activities, the implementation of the Regulations on the Authorization and Management of Overseas Employment of Foreign Crew Members, combating with human trafficking and the protection of crew members’ rights and benefits are core values of the Taiwan Government as well. Foreign crew members hired abroad are indispensible partners to Taiwan’s distant water fisheries industry. The whole industry being shamed by the illicit activities of a few operators is the last thing that this Agency hopes for. With this in mind, the Fisheries Agency will strengthen its efforts to combat those operators who disregard the rights and benefits of crew members, so as to ensure the protection of human rights and the sustainable development of the distant water fishing industry.
Spokesman: Deputy Director-General Mr. Kuo-pin Lin