The government should consider whether to allow Taiwanese fishing vessels to carry weapons to defend themselves against pirate attacks, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said yesterday.
While Taiwanese law forbids fishing boats from carrying weapons on board, the Fisheries Agency and other related agencies should consider discussing the possibility of amending the law, said James Lee (李光章), director-general of the Department of European Affairs.
The ministry made the suggestion in response to instances of Somalian pirates hijackings Taiwanese vessels in the Indian Ocean.
At a regular news briefing, Lee also said local authorities should eye letting fishing vessels hire private armed guards, a practice that has been adopted by several European countries, such as the UK.
“We cannot comment on that at present,” Fisheries Agency deputy director-general Tsay Tzu-yaw (蔡日耀) said in response to the suggestion, adding that the issue required interagency discussions.
Lee also cited cooperation between Taiwan and Europe in combating piracy, including the publication of a Chinese-language handbook translated from the English-version of Best Management Practices for Protection against Somalia Based Piracy — Version 4 (BMP4).
The BMP4, aimed at helping ships avoid, deter or delay piracy in high-risk areas, has been distributed to Taiwanese fishing and merchant boats since late last year. Measures from the book have proven to be a success in fighting piracy, Lee said.
Since the second half of last year, Taiwan has also been added to the network of the UK Maritime Trade Operations, which provides a unified contact points for merchant vessels that come under attack from pirates or are hijacked.