The nation's upcoming entry into the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) is a breakthrough in the nation's efforts to raise its international profile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.
However, pressure from China meant that ministry had to settle for a name other than Taiwan, the name under which it has been an observer in the commission.
"As a `fishing entity,' we'll enter the IATTC as a full member," Minister of Foreign Affairs Eugene Chien (
Tung Kuo-yu (董國猷), director of the ministry's Department of International Organizations, made the announcement yesterday morning after attending the 70th meeting of the commission in Antigua, Guatemala, from June 24 to June 27.
The commission meeting passed the so-called "Antigua Convention" aimed at strengthening the international fishery organization, which was established by the 1949 convention, sealed between the US and Costa Rica.
The meeting also passed a separate resolution on the participation of Taiwan as a fishing entity in the convention.
According to the resolution published on the IATTC's Web site, members of the organization recognized the country's "active participation as an observer under the name Taiwan" in the IATTC's work.
But the resolution said it would join "in its character as a fishing entity under the name Chinese Taipei."
Chien said opposition from China forced the change of name.
"It's true that we'll join under the name of Chinese Taipei. It's a name that's not totally satisfactory, but it paves the way for our pragmatic participation in the group," Chien said.
"But for the China factor, we would have had been able to join in the name of Taiwan," he said.
Tung in private called the result a "compromise," saying China had been trying to join the organization as an observer since last year.
The IATTC will be the 19th inter-governmental organization that Taiwan has joined as a full member, the foreign ministry said.
As a fishing entity under the name "Chinese Taipei," the country joined the Convention on Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Central and Western Pacific Ocean in 2000, another inter-governmental fishery management organization.
The country's entry into this kind of organization was made possible primarily because of the 1995 UN Implementing Agreement, which stipulates clearly that the agreement "applies mutatis mutandis to other `fishing entities' whose vessels fish on the high seas."
Taiwan now ranks among the world's six largest deep-sea fishing countries, along with Russia, Japan, Spain, Poland and South Korea, according to the UN.
Joining fishery management organizations has thus become a foreign ministry priority to safeguard the country's interests as a major player in the deep-sea fishing industry, the ministry said.
The commission's 14 members and other entities including the EU, Canada, China and South Korea took part in negotiations before the signing of the multilateral convention aimed at protecting fishery resources in the Inter-American tropical regions.