March 22, 2016

SOUTH PACIFIC OCEAN: Taiwan Moving to Tackle Illegal Fishing by Long-Distance Fleets

Focus Taiwan News
written by Yang Shu-min and Elaine Hou
Wednesday March 16, 2016

TAIPEI: (CNA) A public hearing will be held in Taiwan within the next few weeks to hear the views of fishermen and international organizations on a proposal to increase the penalties on long-distance fleets that engage in illegal fishing, a lawmaker said Wednesday.

Lin Tai-hua (林岱樺) of the Democratic Progressive Party said the Legislature's Economics Committee, which she heads, will hold the public hearing in late March or early April before it starts reviewing a bill drafted by the Fisheries Agency.

The draft bill, which requires Cabinet approval before it is sent to the Legislature, is seeking to impose stiffer penalties for illegal fishing by long distance fleets, with the aim of preventing possible trade sanctions by the European Union and bringing domestic laws in line with international rules.

Under the draft bill, violators would be subject to a maximum fine of NT$30 million (US$ 914,176).

The draft bill is response to a yellow card issued by the European Commission last October, warning that Taiwan risks being identified as an uncooperative country in the fight against "illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU)" fishing.

The warning followed a report by Greenpeace that a Taiwanese fishing vessel, the Shuen De Ching (順得慶) No. 888, was seen illegally harvesting shark fins and throwing back the finned sharks into water near Papua New Guinea in the South Pacific.

Commenting on the upcoming public hearing, Tsai Pei-yun (蔡佩芸), a director at Greenpeace, said she welcomed the move as it would lead to greater transparency and provide an opportunity to hear the views from people in different sectors on the issue.

The draft bill should aim to achieve sustainable development and improve regulations in Taiwan's fishing industry, Tsai said.

Taiwan's Fisheries Agency also said recently that it would step up monitoring of Taiwanese long-distance fishing vessels, in view of an international effort to tighten fishing regulations amid diminishing fishery resources.

The proposal to increase the penalties for illegal fishing by long distance fleets, however, has encountered strong objections by Taiwan's long-distance fishing industry.

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