Taiwan facing sanctions due to illegal fishing

Staff writer, with CNA

Wed, Oct 28, 2015 - Page 4

Taiwan has to improve its fishing practices and eliminate illegal behavior or face trade sanctions from the EU, environmental group Greenpeace said.

Greenpeace reported last month that a Taiwanese fishing vessel, the Shuen De Ching No. 888, was illegally harvesting shark fins and throwing the bodies of the sharks into the sea near Papua New Guinea in the South Pacific.

The European Commission issued a yellow card to Taiwan on Oct. 1, warning that it risked being identified as an uncooperative country in the fight against “illegal, unreported and unregulated” fishing.

Greenpeace said the Fisheries Agency sent officials to check on the Shuen De Ching No. 888 following the ship’s return to Taiwan and found that it had falsely recorded its catch, cut fins off sharks and thrown their bodies into the sea, and violated the ban on fishing for black sharks.

However, the agency’s count of the ship’s catch was far short of Greenpeace’s, indicating that it is not capable of plugging management loopholes, Greenpeace said.

That raised doubts that the agency would be able to solve the yellow card problem within six months, Greenpeace said, and if Taiwan cannot make improvements within that time frame, the EU could impose trade sanctions on Taiwanese seafood.

Based on its annual fish exports to the EU, Taiwan stands to lose about NT$520 million (US$15.91 million) a year, it said.

Greenpeace oceans campaigner Yen Ning (顏寧) said the captain of the Taiwanese ship admitted that it transported a catch early last month, but an investigation by the Fisheries Agency had found nothing and it ended up saying only that the ship made an incorrect report.

The agency fined the ship NT$150,000 and its catch was confiscated, a punishment Yen said was too lenient.

Yen said that reform of Taiwan’s deep-sea fishing system is urgent. She cited as examples South Korea and the Philippines, which stepped up regulation after being issued yellow cards.

South Korea now imposes fines of up to NT$28 million for illegal fishing, while the Philippines raised its fines to NT$31.5 million. Taiwan’s fines are between NT$30,000 and NT$300,000.