It was a passion to protect our oceans and the fish that sustain many millions of people that impelled us to open an office in Taipei 2010. Taiwan sits at the edge of the Pacific Ocean where the bulk of the world's fish stocks live. 60% of the world's tuna come from the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. Because they are near the top of the food chain, their numbers indicate the health of a marine ecosystem. The news is not good.
The majestic bluefin tuna weighs in at 700kg, can accelerate faster than a Porsche and swim as fast as 43mph. This wonderful fish has been exploited since large-scale industrial fishing began in the 1950s. Bigeye and yellowfin tuna are over-fished in all oceans.
Taiwan is at the center of the crisis facing our oceans. It has fishing boats in every ocean of the world, and it has the largest fishing fleet in the Pacific. Due to international condemnation after the number of its fishing vessels had spiraled out of control Taiwan cut the number of its distant-water fishing vessels to 2,200 in 2009. However, the number of Taiwanese vessels has continued to rise because many of them register under a flag of convenience (FOC). The number of FOC vessels operated by Taiwanese fishermen has grown rapidly in recent years. Factoring in FOC ships, Taiwan has one of the biggest tuna fleets in the world.
As well as getting the Taiwan government to crack down on FOC vessels, the worldwide problem of saving our oceans has a simple solution: a network of marine reserves (national parks in the sea), where fishing and mining would be prohibited. Ideally, these reserves would cover about 40% of the world's oceans.
Images © Paul Hilton
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