The FA had claimed that the Lung Yuin was Panama-flagged, although it clearly flew the Vanuatu flag as it left Kashiung port on Monday, after Greenpeace activists delayed its departure by chaining themselves to the ship’s anchor. In response to Greenpeace demands to investigate the vessel, the FA responded that fish carriers such as Lung Yuin are not required to comply with its national requirements to register flag of convenience operations. This is a direct contradiction with the text of Taiwan’s maritime regulations (1) as well as international interpretations of vessels undertaking "fishing activities," which includes fish carriers.
“In the five days since Greenpeace alerted the Fisheries Agency to the Lung Yuin’s failure to comply with Taiwan’s legislation, the authorities have taken no action, and have instead responded with confused and uninformed rebuttals”, said Kao Yu Fen, Greenpeace East Asia oceans campaigner. “The FA needs to shape up quickly on suspected and illegal fishery operations, but if they won’t even act on an apparently illegal vessel in port, what hope do our oceans and tuna have in the Pacific Ocean, where there is little monitoring and surveillance?”
Fish carrier vessels like the Lung Yuin, which is due to collect tuna from the Pacific Ocean for market shelves in Japan, Taiwan and the US, facilitate the laundering of illegally caught tuna by transferring tuna from fishing vessels out at sea, far away from any monitoring by authorities. Scientists have warned that Pacific bigeye and yellowfin tuna stocks are already in sharp decline because of both legal and illegal overfishing. Long-line fishing, widely used to catch Pacific tuna, is poorly regulated and pirate fishing is thought to be commonplace among long-line fleets (2).
On January 25th, it was reported that a Taiwanese owned fishing boat was caught carrying out suspected illegal fishing activities in the waters of the Solomon Islands (3), further evidence of the problematic behaviour of Taiwan’s fishing fleet.
"This week’s events clearly show that Taiwan simply has too many fishing and carrier vessels operating to properly control them. If Taiwan is to ensure tuna and healthy oceans for the future, it must champion strong international conservation measures such as the closure of Pacific high seas pockets(4), a ban on at sea transshipments, fishing capacity reductions in order to close the legal loopholes exploited by its fishing fleets," said Sari Tolvanen, Greenpeace International Oceans Campaigner.
Greenpeace is campaigning for a global network of marine reserves covering 40% of the world’s oceans and for a more sustainable fishing industry, both necessary steps to restoring our oceans to health. The Greenpeace flagship, Rainbow Warrior, is currently in Taiwan as part of its Ocean Defenders Tour of East Asia, highlighting the need for oceans protection and an end to the depletion of marine life such as tuna.
Sari Tolvanen, Oceans Campaigner, Greenpeace International, +31655125480
Yu Fen Kao, Oceans Campaigner, Greenpeace East Asia, +886939386874
Steve Smith, Greenpeace International Communications, +31643787359
NOTES TO EDITORS
1) Article 3.3 of The Regulations on the Approval of Investment in the Operation of Foreign Flag Fishing Vessels defines the activities subject to the registration requirement as: "engagement in the business of fishing by fishing vessels, trading, transporting and import and export of fishery products."
2) The global extent of IUU fishing was reported by MRAG and University of British Columbia (2008). It is estimated that the amount of IUU fishing in the region is between 21-46% of all fishing activities, the majority of which would be conducted by the long-line
For more information on the Greenpeace East Asian Ocean Defenders tour, visit: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/oceans/Defending-Pacific-2011/