Sat, Oct 06, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Vessel fined NT$3.75m for abuse, illegal sharks

SMELLS FISHY:An investigation by two South Africans and a UK-based environmental group found poor living, safety and food conditions on the fishing boat

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Crew of the Taiwanese deep sea fishing boat Fuh Sheng No. 11 stand on the deck of the ship at the Port of Kaohsiung on Sept. 13.

Photo courtesy of the Fisheries Agency

Crew on the deep sea fishing ship Fuh Sheng No. 11 (福甡11號) are to be fined NT$3.75 million (US$121,595) for abusing foreign crew members and catching banned sharks, and are to undergo an investigation for its alleged involvement in human trafficking, the Council of Agriculture’s Fisheries Agency announced on Thursday.

The vessel in May became the first to be detained under provisions of the International Labour Organization’s Work in Fishing Convention No. 188 in Cape Town, South Africa.

Two South African inspectors found that the vessel has poor accommodation, insufficient food, poor safety and health conditions, and lacks documentation, the organization said.

Footage released last month by the UK-based Environmental Justice Foundation also showed the vessel’s harsh working conditions and cruel fishing activities.

The Fisheries Agency said that based on its investigative findings, it would impose fines totaling NT$3.75 million on the ship’s management for contravening labor and fishing laws.

Its managers illegally employed foreign crew and failed to pay a minimum wage, while some crew reported that the captain and a Filipino officer had beaten other crew members, for which they are to be fined NT$550,000, while the vessel’s license is to be suspended for five months, the agency said.

A fine of NT$2 million is to be imposed on the labor agent who did not sign a contract with the vessel’s crew, it said, adding that the ship’s alleged contraventions of the Human Trafficking Prevention Act (人口販運防制法) would be investigated by the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors’ Office.

The vessel also caught prohibited shark species, such as hammerheads, threshers and oceanic whitetips, even though they were not kept on board, the agency said, citing its interviews with the vessel’s captain and crew.

The ship did not duly record the number of animals caught in its electronic logbook, for which its operator and captain would be fined NT$1 million and NT$200,000 respectively, it said.

Meanwhile, the owner and captain of another ship, Jin Chang No. 6 (金昌6號), are to face a steeper fine of NT$11.4 million for catching more than 30 tonnes of prohibited silky sharks and oceanic whitetip sharks, the agency said.

The vessel’s fishing license would be suspended for six months and all the animals would be destroyed, it said.

As the nation has not yet been lifted from the European Commission’s warning list for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, the agency called on fishers to obey domestic and international laws, saying that it would continue cracking down on illegal fishing activities.

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