Greenpeace campaigner Yu Fen Kao briefs reporters on the overfishing crisis facing our oceans and the urgent need for action by Taiwan's Fisheries Agency.

Yesterday, Greenpeace activists went to the Taiwan Fisheries Agency’s headquarters to demand they address the tuna overfishing crisis and be more transparent about the Agency’s budget and policy-making. Taiwan – one of the world’s largest tuna fishing powers- needs to engage more in conservation discussions, including at upcoming regional fisheries management meetings.

On 9th August, Greenpeace released a report detailing how Taiwan’s Fisheries Agency supported distant water fishing operations from 2002 to 2010 while at the same time talking about sustainability. We investigated how the Fisheries Agency spent money on Taiwan’s distant water fishing industry, analyzed the line items and how the budget was organized. Even though the Fisheries Agency and Taiwan's President Ma claim that sustainability would be guiding principles of the government, it is not the case with the Fisheries Agency. That's why today we again presented our demands to the Fisheries Agency officials and delivered a large cut-out of a tuna, to remind them of how overfished the tuna populations are.

Subsidies for Taiwan’s already enormous fishing industry will be useless if there are no fish left for them to catch. We know that 75% of the almost 300 million euro spent to subsidize Taiwan’s distant water fishing fleet from 2002 to 2010 goes to "enhancing the fishing capacity," which includes fuel subsidies (4 billion), ship scrapping and buyback plans (3.8 billion) and encourage distant water fishing right after the buyback (0.29 billion). What’s worse is that the money goes to rich people, and only about 5% of the Taiwanese people employed in the fishing industry. The risk of running out of tuna is shared by people all around the Pacific region who rely on fish for food and jobs.

Greenpeace campaigner Yu Fen Kao (left) presents Greenpeace demands and a tuna to Fisheries Agency officials in Taiwan

Right after the report was released, the Fisheries Agency proactively tried to confuse the public without really facing the problem, so we are here today to ask for answers and accountability. Unfortunately, we’ve only heard bureaucratic responses as usual. No doubt, the fisheries agency will no longer hide behind the scene to make Taiwan as an accomplice of the depletion of marine resources and every move Fisheries Agency take will be the focus of international supervision.

Sustainability is not a slogan, not a vague idea; it should be the first thought of those in charge of the fish stocks meant to feed the people of Taiwan and the Pacific region and keep Taiwanese fishing industries alive. The tuna crisis is not going to be solved automatically, we need conservation measures to achieve sustainable fisheries and to create more marine reserves in our oceans. If the Pacific Ocean is to survive and be able to contribute to the Pacific region’s food security, we need action from the Taiwanese Fisheries Agency today. Stay tuned here for more our Taiwan work as we wait for the Fisheries Agency’s decision.