Fri, Jul 05, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Government, EU establish illegal fishing task force

Staff writer, with CNA

Taiwan and the EU have established a joint task force to help prevent illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, the Fisheries Agency said yesterday.

The decision to set up the joint task force followed Taiwan’s removal on Thursday last week from the EU’s illegal fishery watch list after almost four years, Fisheries Agency Director-General Huang Hung-yen (黃鴻燕) said at a news conference in Taipei after a weekly Cabinet meeting.

“The task force will not only seek to continue the enforcement of existing measures under the government’s four major areas of endeavor, but would also allow both sides to discuss relevant issues and work together toward our shared goals,” Huang said.

The first consultative meeting of the Taiwan-EU task force is to be held at the end of this year at the earliest, he said.

If Taiwan had obtained a “red card” instead of removal from the IUU watch list, its fisheries products would have been banned in the EU, which would have hurt its distant-water fishing industry, he added.

“The loss would have been tremendous,” Huang said, adding that the development of the nation’s distant-water fishing industry is closely intertwined with several other local industries, which together are worth more than NT$100 billion (US$3.22 billion) per year.

The annual output of Taiwan’s distant-water fishing industry is about NT$40 billion, with exports accounting for about NT$28 billion, he said.

Since the EU slapped a “yellow card” on Taiwan in October 2015 over insufficient efforts against IUU fishing, the government has worked to improve the situation through an 11-point action plan that covers four major areas.

The four areas are reform of laws governing distant-water fishing; improvement of oversight through the establishment of a central monitoring, control and surveillance system and other monitoring measures; improvement of the traceability of marine fisheries products; and international collaboration with other nations.

At yesterday’s meeting, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said that the lifting of the yellow card does not mean the government can become complacent.

Instead, Taiwan needs to strive harder to move more in line with the international community, he said.

“At the same time, our fishers should continue to abide by international rules and domestic regulations,” Su said. “Only through concerted effort can we combat IUU fishing and ensure sustainable development of our fishing industry.”

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