Taipei, 29 September 2010 - Greenpeace today exposed the Taiwan Fisheries Agency’s failure to provide an accurate number of Flag of Convenience (FOC) vessels operated by its industry. Massive enforcement failures by Taiwan of its legislation means up to 70% of the FOC vessels are currently evading national laws. The report (1) was launched on the eve of a Technical Compliance Committee Meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission in Phonapei, which urgently needs to recommend tougher regulations to halt the decline of the valuable Pacific tuna fisheries.
Greenpeace’s investigation found 343 FOC vessels of which only 108 have adhered to the legislation requiring them to register their operations with Taiwan authorities. The fines for evading the legislation could bring USD 8.5 million to Taiwan if pursued. Another 41 vessels were identified as suspect FOC vessels requiring further investigation by authorities.
“Even though Taiwan is one of the few places to even have legislation meant to control fishing under flags of convenience it is alarming the tuna industry evades even the simplest registrations. This underlines the need for regional action in the Pacific to better regulate the fleets and clamp down on pirate fishing and wasteful practices.” said Yu Fen Kao of Greenpeace.
Flagging vessels to foreign flags is a common way of evading regulations and accessing fishing grounds used by the fishing industry. The Pacific Ocean is the main fishing ground of the bloated Taiwan industry which is known to often be involved in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) or pirate fishing activities. In the report, Greenpeace also exposes 16 cases of pirate fishing linked to the Taiwanese fishing industry in 2009 and 2010 alone.
“In order to rescue the declining Pacific tuna stocks, key areas or “pockets” of international waters in the Pacific (2), vulnerable to pirate fishing must be closed to all fishing activities and the wasteful use of fish aggregation devices (FADs) in purse seine fishing banned,” continued Yu Fen Kao.
Recent scientific findings show that the Pacific bigeye tuna now exists at only 17% of the original biomass. Fishing with deadly fish magnets “fish aggregation devices” FADs is a major cause of this decline together with pirate fishing and overcapacity in fishing fleets (3).
“The rogue fleets that avoid regulations engage in pirate fishing and wasteful fishing practices should be the first to be booted off the water. It’s also time that the big contributors to destructive and overfishing in the Pacific such as Taiwan, Japan, Korea, US as well as Indonesia and the Philippines begin to seriously reduce their fishing capacity.” said Sari Tolvanen of Greenpeace International.
Greenpeace is campaigning for healthy oceans by working to create a global network of marine reserves to cover 40 percent of the world’s oceans and to make the fishing industry more sustainable - necessary steps to vibrant oceans and fish for the future.
(1) The Inconvenient Truth of Taiwan’s Flags of Convenience
(2) Map of Pacific High Seas Pockets:
(3) Summary report of the Scientific Committee of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.