Source: Focus Taiwan
Author: S. M. Yang and Joseph Yeh
The Fisheries Agency said Sunday it is confident that the European Commission will soon lift its “yellow card” against Taiwan, which was issued in 2015 as a warning that the country was at risk of being identified as uncooperative in the fight against illegal fishing.
Huang Hung-yen (黃鴻燕), deputy chief of the Fisheries Agency, told CNA that when a European Union delegation arrives Monday for a 10-day inspection tour of Taiwan, it will find that the country has not only met but surpassed the EU regulations on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU).
In similar vein, Fisheries Agency Director-General Chen Tain-shou (陳添壽) said that at the request of the EU, Taiwan has made major achievements over the past years in the fight against IUU and has been working to ensure that Taiwanese deep sea fishing boats are operating in accordance with EU fishery regulations.
The measures include amendments last year to the Act for Distant Water Fisheries, the Act to Govern Investment in the Operation of Foreign Flag Fishing Vessels, and the Fisheries Act, Chen said, adding that Taiwan is also drafting another 15 amendments.
Since the new amendments took effect, local authorities have levied a total of NT$30 million (US$1 million) in fines in 35 cases of violations, according to the Fishery Agency.
In February, the agency set up a central monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) system to keep track of Taiwan’s 1,200 deep sea fishing boats around the clock, the agency said.
In addition, the Fishery Agency said it has sent more than 130 inspectors to 32 major harbors around the world to regularly check on Taiwanese fishing boats.
Taiwan has also adopted the Boarding Inspection Procedures, which allows reciprocal high seas boarding and inspection of fishing vessels, joining Australia, New Zealand, the Cook Islands, the United States, Japan and France though an agreement, the agency said.
Such actions prove that Taiwan has been doing its best to meet and even surpass the standards set by the EU in the fight against IUU, Huang said.
The visiting EU delegation is scheduled to hold closed-door meetings with local fisheries officials and visit fishing ports in Yilan’s Su’ao Township, Pingtung’s Donggang Township and Kaohsiung’s Cianjhen District for onsite inspections, he said.
Agriculture Minister Lin Tsung-hsien (林聰賢) also expressed confidence that the yellow card, which was issued as warning in October 2015, will be lifted before the end of the year.
His ministry had earlier warned that if the EU upgraded its yellow card to a red, all fishing activity by Taiwanese boats would be banned and the effect would be huge.
The value of Taiwan’s fishing trade with the EU is around NT$7 billion (US$230 million) per year, but if the EU decides to issue a red card, other countries such as the U.S. Japan, could also join the crackdown on Taiwan, according to the Fishery Agency.