Taiwan: Heavy fines for shark finning and retention of prohibited species

Press Release

Fisheries Agency of Taiwan

10. April 2020

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Fisheries Agency of Taiwan reaffirms its determination to combat IUU fishing

To combat IUU fishing, the Fisheries Agency of Taiwan recently imposed severe sanctions on several cases of fishing vessels committing serious violations. The Fisheries Agency stated that fishing vessels with offenses not only cause harm to the sustainable utilization of fisheries resources, lead to unfair competition, but damage the image of this industry as a whole. The Fisheries Agency, again, calls on all fishers not to defy laws and regulations.

The operator and master of JIN CHANG NO.21 collectively fined a total of 7.15 million NTD for shark finning and retaining prohibited species.

The Fisheries Agency indicated that since the three laws concerning distant water fisheries became effective in January 2017, the Agency has been proactive in educating and assisting fishers to comply with both domestic and international requirements. Also, the Agency has taken legal actions to penalize fishing vessels that violate laws and regulations. Currently, cases of sanctions imposed under the Act for Distant Water Fisheries include seriously misreporting logbooks or catch reports, fishing for and retaining of prohibited species illegally, etc. The Fisheries Agency imposed fines on the operators and employees of those fishing vessels, according to the severity of the violation, further penalties include suspension of fishing license or deprivation of illegal benefits, and confiscation of illegal catch.

Take fishing vessel JIN CHANG NO.21 for example, during its fishing operation in 2018, this vessel came to the attention of the Fisheries Monitoring Center as the vessel positions showed that it had an encounter at-sea with JIN CHANG NO.6, which has a record of illegal fishing and retaining prohibited shark species. Due to their interaction, JIN CHANG NO.21 was marked as one of the high-risk vessels, to which the officials pay keen attention.

JIN CHANG NO.21 received port inspection right after it entered the domestic port, and inspectors found retaining shark fins of the prohibited species silky shark and oceanic whitetip shark without the corresponding carcasses, which suggested retaining of prohibited species and shark finning. Based on the 5% fin-to-carcass ratio, the estimated catch of silky shark weighs more than 18,000 kilograms and the catch of oceanic whitetip shark weighs over 1,300 kilograms. Therefore, the Council of Agriculture determined that JIN CHANG NO.21 had violated the regulations, and thus imposed a fine of 5.75 million NTD on the operator and a suspension of the fishing license for 7 months, under Article 36 of the Act for Distant Water Fisheries. The vessel master of JIN CHANG NO.21 was also fined 1.4 million and his seaman’s book was revoked for 7 months. In addition, the illegal catch was destructed.

Another case is the fishing vessel operated in the Indian Ocean named YI FENG NO.268. Through port inspection, this vessel was found to be misreporting the catch of yellowfin tuna, a species with a strict catch limit in the Indian Ocean. In one of its misreported recordings, the logbook record and the actual landing amount of yellowfin tuna has a gap of over 10 tons. As a result, the Council of Agriculture imposed a fine of 3.41 million NTD on the operator and a fine of 400 thousand NTD on its captain, pursuant to Article 36 of the same Act.

Punishment on the offender is crucial to the sustainability of the fishing industry.

According to the Fisheries Agency, fisheries logbook information plays a crucial role in data collection and allows a better understanding of fish stock status; and therefore, faithfully reporting catch is the foundation of fisheries management. The list of prohibited species was adopted by international fisheries organizations and the government based on the status of relevant fisheries resources, and can be considered a conservation measure. Both management measures require the collaboration of all fishers to achieve the objectives.

When the three distant water fisheries laws were in effect for the first time, there were fishers that complained about the severe monetary punishments; however, the Fisheries Agency stated that, after three (3) years of enforcement and assistance, most fishers now comply with the regulations and recognize the necessity of stringent enforcement on serious violations. The Fisheries Agency reaffirmed that, in order to maintain a sustainable management framework and a fair ground for fisheries operation, it will have no tolerance to those who failed to follow the laws and regulations.

Source: Fisheries Agency of Taiwan

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