An official Taiwanese fishery training ship embarked earlier this week on a six-month mission to police Taiwanese vessels and foreign ships operating in the Atlantic Ocean.
The Yuhsun No. 2 -- under the authority of the Coast Guard Administration and the Fisheries Administration -- left Kaohsiung City on Wednesday for the Atlantic Ocean to monitor fishing boats operating there for 184 days to demonstrate Taiwan's commitment to prevent over-fishing on the high seas.
It marked the first time that Taiwan had sent a fishing police vessel to the Atlantic Ocean since the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) late last year cut Taiwan's total allowable bigeye tuna fishing quota and slashed the number of Taiwan vessels allowed to operate in the Atlantic, said Sun Chih-peng (
Sun said law enforcement officials aboard the vessel would not only police Taiwanese fishing boats operating in the Atlantic Ocean, but would also report their findings to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) authorities if they find any irregularities committed by local or foreign fishing vessels.
The Yuhsun No. 2, which is expected to travel 55,560km on the mission, is scheduled to return to the country next February.
Meanwhile, Sun noted that the program to cut the number of Taiwanese tuna fishing boats was continuing.
The government aims to dismantle another 60 deep-sea fishing vessels by October this year and sink another 50 into the seas surrounding the island to be used as artificial fish culture reefs.
Both measures are designed to help protect deep-sea fishery resources and maintain sustainable fishing operations, Sun said.
More Taiwanese fishing vessels will be allowed to return to the Atlantic Ocean only if the ICCAT decides in its annual meeting, to be held in November, that Taiwan has done a satisfactory job in curbing its overfishing practices and helping replenish fishery resources, according to Sun.
The ICCAT cut Taiwan's total allowable bigeye tuna fishing quota from 14,900 tonnes last year to a mere 4,600 tonnes this year because of alleged overfishing by local vessels.
The ICCAT also allowed only 15 out of Taiwan's 60-strong big-eye tuna fleet to continue their operations in the Atlantic Ocean for this year on a trial basis.
The decision was made during the ICCAT's 19th regular meeting, which was held in Spain in late December last year, after Japan proposed a quota cut, citing overfishing by Taiwanese vessels.
Most bigeye tuna caught by Taiwanese boats are sold to Japan. The amount exported to Japan over the past two years has exceeded the total yearly quota, prompting the charge of overfishing by the Japanese.