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Taiwan Fisheries Agency to Make a Stand Against Illegal Fishing

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TAIWAN - The Fisheries Agency has reiterated that it plans to increase penalties for illegal fishing, amid concerns about a warning from the EU and the threat of possible sanctions.

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“The agency will revise the Fisheries Act to step up penalties,” said Fisheries Agency Deputy Director-General Tsay Tzu-yaw, adding that it also wants to increase its inspection personnel, the TaipeiTimes reports.

“The agency will complete communications and negotiations with the EU before the six-month deadline given for improvement, in the hope that Taiwan can be removed from the ‘yellow card’ list,” he said.

The EU issued a “yellow card” to Taiwan on 1 October, warning that it risks being identified as an uncooperative nation in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

It said there were “serious shortcomings in the fisheries legal framework, a system of sanctions that does not deter IUU fishing and lack of effective monitoring, control and surveillance of the long-distance fleet.”

The EU thinks that Taiwan’s fines for illegal fishing are too low compared with those imposed in Japan and South Korea, Tsay said.

At the core of the warning is a Taiwanese fishing vessel, the Shuen De Ching No. 888, which was caught with illegally harvested shark fins near Papua New Guinea in early September. The ship was fined NT$150,000 and its catch was confiscated.

The EU could consider trade sanctions on fishery imports from Taiwan if the identified shortcomings are not addressed.