Taiwan is expected to become a member of the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday. The regional organization would be the sixth international fisheries body to include Taiwan as a full member.
Taiwan was among the 23 countries that attended the organization’s International Consultations last month in Auckland, New Zealand, where the delegates discussed and passed the Convention on Conservation and Management of High Seas Fishery Resources in the South Pacific Ocean.
Taiwan was admitted in the convention as a “fishing entity” rather than a “contracting party” under the moniker Chinese Taipei, Department of International Organizations director-general Paul Chang (章文樑) said.
Taiwan has been lobbying to be part of the regional fishing body since 2006.
A deal was finally cemented on Nov. 14 after eight rounds of negotiations over the past three years, Chang said, adding that gaining a foothold at the organization could improve Taiwan’s chances of entering other international maritime organizations, such as the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission under the UN umbrella.
“As a major fishing country, Taiwan has the responsibility and obligation to participate in global maritime conservation efforts,” Chang said.
MOFA said that the convention would be submitted to the legislature in February for approval and then returned to the global organization to complete the process.
The convention is expected to take effect two or three years after all the signatory countries have finished their respective legislative processes.
The South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization was established by New Zealand, Australia and Chile to include species of fish that had not been covered by other organizations, such as the jack mackerel and the orange roughy, Chang said.
Meanwhile, at a separate setting yesterday, Fisheries Agency officials said the regional body would help protect the rights of Taiwanese fishing vessels and their fishing quotas.
The South Pacific organization primarily monitors fishing of jack mackerel, orange roughy and squid in the southern Pacific Ocean.
Taiwan has approximately 25 large fishing vessels focused on these species, with a combined haul of around 23,000 tonnes per year.
“Joining this organization will give our fishing industry guarantees concerning possible future allocations of fish under its regulations,” Fisheries Agency Deputy Director-General Chen Tian-shou (陳添壽) said.
“This will not only benefit fishermen but also the industry’s [sustainable development] ... and it is an important step in allowing Taiwan to join other organizations,” Chen said.
Chen did not elaborate in response to questions concerning potential fishing quotas and regulations for vessels set by the organization, saying only that the fishing industry would benefit from joining the organization even if quotas were instituted.
An article written in August by Fish Information and Services (FIS), an international seafood information research agency, quoted industry professionals as saying that the regional body could impose quota schemes within the next two years.
The organization’s regulations require that all fishing vessels under its jurisdiction report their catches “in a timely manner” through an online logbook system, in addition to being required to report any ship-to-ship transshipments.
ANGRY AT QUOTAS
Organizations representing fishermen criticized the move as another example of the government instituting regulations and restrictions without consulting the fishing industry.
“Fishermen are already struggling to deal with the government’s many restrictions ... While [the government] is [busy joining] international organizations, we have to make a living,” said Hsiao Wen-yi (蕭文義), chairman of the Taiwan Fishermen Labor Rights Association.
Hsiao said that his organization was “opposed to all limits or quotas of any kind.”
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