The Council of Agriculture will pull out all the stops to push the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) to return the tuna catch quota for Taiwan to its previous level, an official said yesterday.
Council Vice Chairman Lee Chien-chuan (李健全) made the remarks with the ICCAT scheduled to meet next month to review whether the nation has improved its supervision of tuna fishing operations over the past year to prevent overfishing on the high seas.
The ICCAT decided last year to slash this year's tuna catch quota for Taiwan to 4,600 tonnes from the original 14,900 tonnes as a punishment for the nation's alleged overfishing in 2004. It also demanded that Taiwan step up management and surveillance of its tuna fishing operations, pending a review next month.
Lee said the Council has been lobbying the US, Japan, Canada and the EU to support resumption of the original tuna catch quota for Taiwan for the coming year.
During a conference of the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna last week, Lee said the Taiwanese delegation had asked Japan to speak for the nation when the ICCAT meets next month.
Lee said the Council has furnished all ICCAT member states with detailed statistical reports on Taiwanese fishing vessels' tuna catch on the high seas. "The breadth and completeness of our reports have won much recognition," he added.
Asked whether Taiwan could succeed in its bid to have its tuna catch quota restored to its previous level, Lee said he is cautiously optimistic.
"Developments so far are favorable for us. But the international situation tends to change all the time, so we must remain vigilant," Lee said.
Before the ICCAT conference, Lee said, the Taiwanese delegation would hold a pre-departure meeting to coordinate opinions and stances of the government, fishing sector and academic community on all relevant issues.