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Is this how Taiwan treats its migrant fishermen?

09/15 10:00

The UK-based group Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) this week released a report and video that it says shows gross human rights violations and serious illegal fishing offences aboard the Taiwanese fishing vessel Fuh Sheng 11, the first boat in the world to be detained for violating new international standards of decent work in the fishing industry. The group said when the boat was detained in South Africa earlier this year, Taiwan's Fisheries Agency had the opportunity to take action, but instead conducted a botched inspection, announced there were no human rights issues and allowed the boat to go free. EJF said crew members later told its investigators of beatings from the captain, 22-hour working days and serious injuries to migrants working in dangerous conditions. They also reported that the vessel had illegally finned sharks, including endangered hammerheads, according to EJF. Taiwan's Fisheries Agency (FA) this week issued a statement saying the boat has returned to harbor in Kaohsiung city and is now being investigated to see whether it indeed abused workers, owed them wages, failed to provide proper insurance, and deducted their salary. The FA said the boat owner has already been fined NT$300,000 for not following regulations in hiring workers. It will also be investigated to see if it had indeed carried out illegal fishing, including catching endangered sharks, and shark finning, the FA said. If the allegations prove to be true, the case could be further reminder of a longstanding problem – that Taiwan has laws, but enforcement is sometimes lax. This issue is especially sensitive as Taiwan is eager to prevent the European Union from issuing a red card on its fishing industry for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU). Watch the EJF's video to see what the migrants who worked on the boat said. (Video courtesy of EJF.) Posted on Sept. 15, 2018

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