The Fisheries Administration will soon dispatch monitors to 15 vessels that will continue to operate in the Atlantic Ocean, fishery officials said yesterday.
The officials said the administration has recently started a training program and the first batch of 15 trainees will be responsible for monitoring the operations of the vessels and the registration of their catches.
The 15 were originally ocean science observers collecting information of ocean resources, the officials said. They are receiving training on fishery management and disciplinary regulations to facilitate their new tasks.
The Fisheries Administration is planning to train another 15 people, hoping to boost the number of observers stationed on the ships to at least 30 so that they could work on a rotational basis, the officials said.
The officials also said that they are now communicating with the port countries, via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on arranging the observers to board the Taiwanese vessels either in Las Palmas, Spain, or Cape Town, South Africa.
The first group of 15 observers are expected to board the ships between the end of this month and the end of next month, and they should be able to start work early next year.
The observers will monitor the operations of the vessels and check if they have registered their fishery catches according to regulations. They will report the catches daily to the Fisheries Administration, which will in turn report the information to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT).
Last month ICCAT cut Taiwan's total bigeye tuna fishing quota for next year because of overfishing by Taiwanese fishing vessels.
The decision was made on the last day of the ICCAT's 19th regular meeting held in Seville, Spain, after Japan proposed a quota cut citing overfishing by Taiwanese vessels.
Most bigeye tunas caught by Taiwanese boats are sold to Japan.
The amount exported to Japan in the past two years has exceeded the total yearly catch quota, which is what prompted the overfishing allegation.
Japan has also accused the government of failing to supervise operations of the tuna-fishing industry, saying mismanagement had led to overfishing.
As a result, 42 Taiwanese fishing vessels specializing in catching bigeye tuna in the Atlantic will not be able to operate next year and must return to Taiwan.
Only 15 vessels in the tuna fleet will be allowed to continue fishing in the Atlantic.