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Taiwan aiming to sign fishery pact with China: official

2013/11/27 19:26

Taipei, Nov. 27 (CNA) Taiwan is seeking to sign an agreement with China on the protection of fishery resources as means of resolving the problem of rampant poaching by Chinese fishing boats, James Sha, director-general of Taiwan's Fisheries Agency, said Wednesday.

Sha was responding to a call by several environmental protection groups for the government to crack down on illegal fishing within three nautical miles of Taiwan waters.

Speaking at a legislative hearing, the groups said penalties such as suspension of operations and revocation of operating permits should be imposed on boats found otter trawling or twin trawling within the three-mile zone.

Sha said illegal fishing in Taiwan's waters by Chinese trawlers is rampant and has severely depleted the fisheries resources near Taiwan.

Although Taiwan's government has been cracking down on illegal fishing by Chinese trawlers, it cannot stop them from fishing within the island's territorial waters, Sha said.

The Fisheries Agency, therefore, is seeking to sign an agreement that would allow China to control its own fishing boats rather than rely on Taiwan, Sha said.

Poaching by Chinese fishing boats is a serious issue, according to Coast Guard Administration Deputy Director-General Wang Chung-yi.

Wang said that although Taiwan's law enforcement authorities have adopted various measures such as dispersion and detention of fishing vessels, these actions are not enough of a deterrent for Chinese fishing boats.

According to a law that was amended last year, Chinese fishing boats found operating in Taiwan's territorial waters can face fines of between NT$50,000 (US$1,687) and NT$500,000.

After the new law took effect, some 187 fishing boats were fined a total of NT$32.05 million in the period March 2012 to the end of that year, Wang said.

Since January this year, the fines have amounted to nearly NT$50 million against 252 Chinese fishing boats but illegal fishing remains rampant, Wang said.

(By Wen Kuei-hsiang and Y.L. Kao)Enditem/pc