Fisheries Agency Continues Protecting Foreign Crew’s Rights and Benefits and Strengthening International Cooperation to Eliminate Forced Labor
On September 30, the Department of Labor (DOL) of the United States (U.S.) included Taiwan-caught fish in its List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor. The Fisheries Agency indicated that several non-governmental human rights or environmental organizations had reported suspected cases of forced labor on some Taiwanese distant water fishing vessels to the DOL in the hope of including Taiwanese distant water catches into such a list. Although the Agency has elaborated to the U.S. through diplomatic channels measures and effort taken with respect to ensuring rights and benefits of foreign crew, distant water catches were still unfortunately included into the list on September 30. According to relevant information, the Fisheries Agency stated that the exportation of Taiwanese distant water catches is not affected for the time being.
Under the direction of the 2005 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), which was reauthorized by the U.S. Congress, the DOL publicizes the List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor. The list was firstly publicized in 2009, and starting with 2014, it has been publicized biennially, with the aim to raising public awareness about forced labor and child labor as well as to promoting collaboration with relevant countries. It is not intended to be punitive but rather serve as a catalyst for more strategic and focused coordination and coloration. The list publicized on September 30 included 155 goods from 77 countries.
The Fisheries Agency stated that, since the establishment of the Regulations on the Authorization and Management of Overseas Employment of Foreign Crew Members in accordance with the Act for Distant Water Fisheries in 2017, it has made continuous efforts and actions to improve the rights and treatment of foreign crew onboard distant water fishing vessels, including regulating the working hours with a reference to the United Nations Work in Fishing Convention (C-188 Convention), formulating standard form contract to ensure minimum wages and insurance, implementing management evaluations on recruitment agents, amending notification procedures involving human trafficking, strengthening inspections and crew interviews at domestic and foreign ports, and punishing the operators that violate regulations in accordance with domestic law and regulations.
Lastly, the Fisheries Agency stated that improving the rights and treatment of foreign crew is the standing goal of the Taiwan Government. In addition to continuously reinforcing measures of protecting foreign crew’s rights and ensuring law enforcement, the Agency in the meantime engages with the distant water fishing industry and NGOs in various meetings so as to listen and gather opinions. On the other hand, the Agency will keep communicating with the U.S. through diplomatic channels and cooperating on this issue. The Agency once again calls on vessel owners to take good care of foreign crew and maintain a good partnership with them, so that both the fishing industry and crew could benefit from the win-win situation.
Contact Point: Deputy Director-General Mr. Kuo-Ping Lin