Sun, Mar 26, 2017 - Page 3 News List

First fine imposed under strengthened measures to fight illegal ocean fishing

Staff writer, with CNA

The Council of Agriculture on Friday imposed a fine of NT$1.2 million (US$39,000) on a fishing boat registered in Pingtung County’s Donggang Township (東港) for illegally operating in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

The move was taken as the council introduced its new fishing monitoring center, demonstrating its efforts to shake off a “yellow card” given to Taiwan by the EU in 2015 for failing to take sufficient measures to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

The 24-hour center, which opened last month, records the sailing routes of Taiwanese fishing boats operating on the high seas.

Council Minister Lin Tsung-hsien (林聰賢) said the monitoring system not only combats illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, but also protects all seafaring fishing boats.

Should fishing rights disputes arise, data collected by the center could serve as evidence, Lin said.

“We will protect our fishermen who abide by the law, but will admonish those who fish illegally, based on international and domestic laws,” Lin said, adding that punishments would be imposed on those who ignore the admonition.

Lin immediately ordered the penalty after viewing computer images of the Tung Hseng Fu No. 27 fishing boat’s route, which showed that it operated illegally in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone for several days.

Under the Act Governing Distant Water Fisheries (遠洋漁業條例), the boat’s operator is to be fined NT$1 million, while the skipper would be fined NT$200,000, Fisheries Agency Director-General Chen Tian-shou (陳添壽) said.

It is the first fishing boat to be disciplined after the authorities strengthened measures in the fight against illegal fishing, which include introducing stricter regulations governing fishing activities and reinforcing management of fishing boats, in addition to the establishment of the monitoring center.

When asked if the EU yellow card could be withdrawn by the end of this year, Lin said: “We will try.”

According to the council, the EU is to review the results of efforts to improve inadequate monitoring, control and surveillance of long-distance fishing fleets by the end of this month.

In the middle of next month, council Deputy Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) is to lead a delegation to the EU headquarters in Brussels, where they are to discuss the nation’s management conditions, the council said.

If Taiwan is issued a “red card,” it would face trade sanctions, including a ban on the sale of caught fish to Europe, the council said, which would cause immediate trade losses estimated at NT$7 billion per year in fish exports to Europe alone, the council said.

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