Fisheries Agency of Taiwan Will Launch Comprehensive Investigation on the Allegedly Cases of Illegal Fishing Activities Accused by EJF, so as to Clarify the Truth as Soon as Possible
The non-governmental organization Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) made a press release on 5th December 2018, accusing Taiwanese flagged fishing vessels and foreign flagged fishing vessels invested or operated by Taiwan nationals may involve in illegal fishing activities. The Fisheries Agency of Taiwan responded that it has initiated investigation on these cases. However, up to now, all the accusations are made based on hearsay information told by alleged foreign crew, which made it very difficult to verify their stories. Also, the photographs and films posted by the EJF cannot be clearly related to any specific fishing vessel. However, the Fisheries Agency of Taiwan indicated that it will launch investigation based on available information. In the event that the violation is confirmed, it will be subject to punishment in accordance with the Distant Water Fisheries Act (DWFA).
The identity of fishing vessel will need further investigation and violation will be punished as confirmed
The Fisheries Agency indicated that the alleged illegal fishing activities claimed by EJF through interviewing foreign crew are lack of identity on specific vessel and the time of possible offense. The Fisheries Agency will investigate those fishing vessels that had ever employed these crew and ask fisheries operator to clarify the cases. The Fisheries Agency will not tolerate any illegal activities and will make sure offenders be properly sanctioned if evidence is found.
Taiwan has progressively carried out EJF’s suggestions on fisheries management and reinforce enforcement
The Fisheries Agency further indicated, among the ten (10) principles for global transparency advocated by the EJF, Taiwan has adopted actions relevant to seven of them, including to give all vessels a unique number, publish lists of fishing licenses and authorization, publish IUU vessel list of international fisheries organizations, closely monitoring at-sea transshipment, establish fishing vessel information system, punish any nationals involved in IUU fishing activities, and adopt measures for fishing vessels and trade in fisheries products in line with international measures. Nevertheless, there is always room for improvement on these measures. As for the rest three (3) item, including publish vessel tracking data, prohibit nationals invest foreign flagged fishing vessels, publish information on beneficial owners, it may have difficulty to put into practice at current stage due to the restrict of the Personal Information Protection Act or no authorization from the existing legal structure.
Though the stringent DWFA has been criticized by fishermen, the Fisheries Agency stilll stand firmly on its position to meet with the requirements of international regulations
The Fisheries Agency reiterated that as one of the major fishing country on the high seas, to ensure our distant water fisheries comply with the requirement of international society and market states, and cooperate with international society to jointly combat IUU fishing activities, since the DWFA entered into force in 2017, the Agency had adopted a series of management improvement measures and had reinforced the fisheries inspection, including to increase the number of fisheries inspectors, substantially improve the capacity for inspection and level up the minimum inspection rate.
To ensure due process of inspection, while carrying landing inspection, the fisheries inspectors will arrive the ports at 3 a.m. and take turns to monitor the whole process of landing activities. Therefore, it is not as claimed by some environmental group or media that the fisheries inspectors arrive in the ports at day time so the fishery operators can easily evade inspection . This can be easily proved by the increasing amount of cases and fine imposed in accordance with the DWFA, as well as by the protest made by fishermen as reported by the media, which all shows the determination of the Fisheries Agency to implement the DWFA and its regulations and orders.
In response to the cases reported by the EJF, the Fisheries Agency will continue to investigate these cases and impose severe sanctions against offenders in case of violation is confirmed. However, the Fisheries Agency also would like to note that most of Taiwanese fishermen had made tremendous efforts to comply with the relevant regulations, and their efforts and the reputation of our fisheries management should not be disregarded.
Contact person: Kuo-Ping Lin, Deputy Director-General, Fisheries Agency
Mobile Phone: 0988-678051