Sun, Nov 27, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Tuna fishermen to seek compensation from government

CNA , JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA

Owners of Taiwanese fishing boats anchored in Cape Town, South Africa, are planning to have their vessels sail back to Taiwan and seek compensation from the government in the face of international punishment for their bad behavior on the high seas, a diplomat from Taiwan said on Friday.

Liu Ching-lei (劉青雷), director of Taiwan's representative office in Cape Town, said shipowners will seek compensation from the government if the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) goes ahead with its decision to cut Taiwan's quota for bigeye tuna to 4,600 tonnes next year from the current level of 149,000 tonnes.

The move will lead to a reduction in the size of Taiwan's Atlantic bigeye tuna fleet from 76 to 15 boats, Liu said.

unacceptable

What the vessel owners cannot accept is that although 15 fishing vessels will still be able to catch bigeye tuna in the Atlantic next year if the quota cut is implemented, the boats will be subject to severe ICCAT inspections every three months in Cape Town or at Spanish ports, which will add a great financial burden to their operations, Liu said.

The owners are also disgruntled with the government, accusing it of licensing them to construct large fishing ships, he said, adding that they plan to seek government compensation for their current difficulties.

Liu urged Taiwanese fishermen to change their way of thinking and operating if they want to retain a role in the international community.

Taiwan fishermen must never again engage in poaching of fish or fish laundering and should follow international norms and practices while operating on the high seas at a time when global fish resources are plunging and environmental consciousness is growing around the world, he said.

halt operations

Under the ICCAT sanctions, 20 bigeye tuna fishing vessels currently operating in the Atlantic will have to switch to catching other types of fish, while another 41 vessels will have to halt operations altogether.

Hsieh Ta-wen (謝大文), director-general of the Fisheries Administration under the Council of Agriculture, said yesterday the name list of the 15 fishing vessels that will allowed to continue bigeye tuna fishing will be turned over to the International Commission for the ICCAT by Dec. 20.

Hsieh said the administration will formulate "fair and just criteria" in the coming days to select the 15 vessels.

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