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Tsai lauds hard work behind removal from EU fishery watch list

2019/06/27 23:20:22

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen

Taipei, June 27 (CNA) President Tsai Ying-wen (蔡英文) said she was happy about Taiwan's removal from the European Union's illegal fishery watch list Thursday, attributing the development to the concerted efforts of the government and the fishery community.

"We have successfully secured our fishery exports with an annual production value of more than NT$40 billion," Tsai said on her Facebook page after learning of the news.

In October 2015, Taiwan was placed on the EU watch list for insufficient cooperation in combating illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Since then, the European Commission and Taiwan have engaged in three and a half years of intense cooperation and dialogue.

"As a result of that cooperation, Taiwanese authorities now have a broad range of modern and efficient tools to fight IUU fishing in place," the EU said in a statement issued Thursday, noting that Taiwan has also reinforced obligations imposed on Taiwanese operators owning fishing vessels flagged to third countries.

The EU decided to remove Taiwan from the fishery watch list in recognition of reforms put in place over the past three and a half years to tackle IUU fishing, the EU said.

Since 2015, Taiwan has amended three fisheries laws to raise fines for illegal fishing, launched a central monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) system to track the sailing routes of Taiwan's deep sea fishing boats around the clock, and sent inspectors to major harbors around the world to regularly check on Taiwanese fishing boats.

Fisheries Agency Deputy Director-General Lin Kuo-ping (林國平) said Taiwan was removed from the list thanks to its increased law enforcement and closer cooperation with other countries over the past years.

Ho Shih-chieh (何世杰), secretary-general of Taiwan Tuna Longline Association, said the new legislations helped to promote the sustainable growth of the local deep sea fishing industry.

Despite the removal of the yellow card, however, the fishery community remains concerned that international sanctions could be re-imposed should local fishing ships violate international practices again.

Heavy fines by the Council of Agriculture (COA) or the seizure of operating licenses place a great burden on boat captains and crews, according to Ho.

Failures by fishing ship captains to pay fines that lead to the cancellation of a boat's operating license, coupled with heavy fines resulting from violations, have made it very hard for Taiwanese fishing vessels to operate in high seas and make a living, said Lee Kuan-ting (李冠廷), manager of Taiwan Tuna Association.

Indeed, the local fishery community has appealed to the COA, asking it to weigh the need to reduce fines, with the latter agreeing to consider a policy change.

Meanwhile, fishermen in the Kaohsiung and Pingtung areas were pleased that Taiwan has been removed from the EU's fishery watch list.

"I've waited for this for more than three years," said Huang Chao-chin (黃朝欽), manager of the Kaohsiung Fishermen's Association.

"This will be a great help to Taiwan's fishermen and will help boost the country's international image," Huang said.

"The removal of the yellow card will provide local fishermen with an opportunity to transform, as they all know now that they must operate in full compliance with the law," said Lin Han-chow (林漢丑), an official of the Donggang Fishermen's Association in Pingtung County.

(By Flor Wang, Yeh Su-ping, Yang Shu-min and Chen Chi-feng)