Fisheries Agency continue making rolling adjustments on strengthening measures to protect the rights and benefits of foreign crew
“The Giant Ocean Case” reported by The Reporter on February 16, 2020, was a case of human trafficking in Cambodia in 2011. The main suspect has been taken into custody by the Government of Cambodia, and the Fisheries Agency of Taiwan had also forwarded this case to the district prosecutors office for criminal investigation. The Taiwan judiciary authority also contacted with the Cambodia authority asking for relevant criminal evidence and its official jury verdict in order to determine the responsibility of other suspects in Taiwan; however, nothing was provided by the Cambodia government. As no criminal facts were found out after the jury trial, the case was temporarily closed.
The Fisheries Agency states that related preventative measures were adopted right after such a case happened, and “Standard Operation Procedures for Reporting and Processing Cases of Foreign Crew Members Employed Overseas Onboard Distant Water Fishing Vessels Suspicious of Violating Human Trafficking Prevention Act” was established to respond and prevent a recurrence of such incidents.
The Fisheries Agency points out that the “Regulations on the Authorization and Management of Overseas Employment of Foreign Crew Members” was promulgated since January 2017. Apart from strengthening the rights and benefits of foreign crew employed overseas through legal regime, this Agency also works to implement various measures adopted in the regulations, including defining a minimum monthly wage of US$450, life insurance with no less than NT$1 million, minimum daily rest time of 10 hours and a minimum of four days off per month, requesting fisheries operator and employment agent to sign the contract with one another (if entrusted), and establishing employment agents permission system, guarantee bond system and review mechanism for employment agents. Additionally, this Agency has organized several caring events and training courses for foreign crew members to advocate their rights and benefits and their partnership with the fisheries operators. Information Cards on the Rights and Benefits of Crew Members have been distributed, and multi-language publications such as water-proof writing mats were posted in fishing vessels. And from 2019 onward, vessel owners or employment agents are requested to notify foreign crew members of their basic rights and benefits before contract signing, and the whole process of such notification shall be recorded and the recording shall be preserved for inspections.
The Fisheries Agency finally explains that currently there are the Coordination Conference for Human Trafficking Prevention and the Human Rights Promotion Task Force under the Executive Yuan to coordinate the collaboration among related ministries and agencies. The Fisheries Agency will also keep making rolling adjustments to improve the rights and benefits of the foreign crew taking into account various conditions.