The European Commission (EC) identified Taiwan as an uncooperative nation in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing on Thursday after a Taiwanese ship was allegedly found illegally trawling for tuna and carrying shark fins in international waters near Papua New Guinea last month.
The EC said on Thursday that its decision to issue a “yellow card” to Taiwan is based on “serious shortcomings in the fisheries legal framework, a system of sanctions that does not deter IUU fishing, and lack of effective monitoring, control and surveillance of the long-distance fleet, while Taiwan does not systematically comply with the obligations of regional fisheries management organizations.”
The EC said it proposed an action plan for Taiwan and has given the nation six months to resolve the identified issues.
Should Taiwan fail to address them within six months, Taiwanese aquatic products might be banned in EU markets. Fisheries exports to the EU amount to 13 million euros (US$14.6 million) every year.
In response, the Council of Agriculture’s Fisheries Agency said that the EC’s unilateral decision to yellow-flag Taiwan was beyond understanding, as Taiwan and the EU had held four high-level talks on combating IUU fishing since 2012, and the nation had amended the Fisheries Act (漁業法), installed electronic recording and reporting systems on fishing vessels, and monitored load and unload operations at ports, as well as trans-shipping in accordance with the international standards.
Taiwan’s designation as an uncooperative nation would not have an immediate impact on the fishing industry, as Taiwanese fisheries imports are still allowed in the EU, the agency said.
Activist group Greenpeace boarded a Taiwanese tuna longliner — Shuen De Ching No. 888 — last month and reportedly found 75kg of shark fins on the vessel without the corresponding carcasses.
The agency said that it later found 110 shark fins without carcasses on the vessel, which was an obvious violation of shark finning.