Vietnam set to provide fishermen

NEW SOURCE: Beijing's refusal to let Chinese fishermen work for Taiwanese fishing companies means that Vietnam may soon start training men to fill the vacant positions


Tue, Apr 23, 2002 - Page 18

A delegation comprising of members of the Taiwan Provincial Fishery Association (TPFA, 台灣省漁會) and legislators departed yesterday for Vietnam for talks on importing Vietnamese workers for Taiwan's fishing industry, which is facing a severe labor shortage crisis.

Prominent members of the delegation include TPFA Chairman Hsu Teh-hsiang (許德祥); PFP Legislator Cheng Mei-lan (鄭美蘭), who is a standing board director of the TPFA; and Lin Shiang-nung (林享能), former vice chairman of the Cabinet-level Council of Agriculture.

According to Cheng -- elected from the northeastern county of Ilan, which is one of Taiwan's major fishing industry hubs -- the TPFA delegation was sent to Vietnam after the association learned from Vietnamese authorities that the Southeast Asian country will soon establish a fishermen training center aimed at providing fishermen to work aboard Taiwanese fishing vessels.

The Vietnamese plan comes at a crucial time after China recently banned fishing industry workers from working for Taiwanese fishing companies.

According to a rough estimate by the Council of Agriculture, Taiwan's deep-sea fishing vessels need about 25,000 fishermen and its offshore fishing boats need about 5,000 fishermen.

Cheng said that, if the private Taiwan-Vietnam fishery talks proceed smoothly, well-trained Vietnamese fishermen will probably come to Taiwan by June at the earliest.

Taiwan's fishery industry has been hard hit by the abrupt ban on Chinese labor which was imposed by Chinese authorities in February.

According to Cheng, approximately 5,000 Taiwanese fishing vessels have been forced to suspend their operations since China banned its nationals from working aboard Taiwanese boats on Feb. 12.

In addition to Taiwanese fishing boats having to suspend their operations, transactions in Taiwan's major fishery markets have also plummeted, resulting in a sharp decline in fishermen's incomes, Cheng said.

The ban, which has been seen as an attempt to force Taiwanese fishing-vessel owners to improve the working conditions of mainland fishermen, led to a visit to Beijing by a 15-member group in mid-March. The group was made up of TPFA officials and DPP legislator Chen Chin-teh (陳金德) and was sent to negotiate with the relevant mainland Chinese authorities over a lifting of the labor ban.

Taiwan has not heard a word from Beijing since the visit.