On August 29, 2016, the Council of Agriculture (COA) started a new chapter of fisheries cooperation. The “Agreement between the Government of the Republic of China and the Republic of the Marshall Islands on Fisheries Cooperation” was signed by Mr. Tsao Chi-hung, Minister of COA of Taiwan, and Hon. Alfred Alfred, Jr., Minister of Resources and Development of the Marshall Islands on that day, and the signing ceremony was witnessed by Mr. Brenson Wase, Minister of Finance of the Marshall Islands, Mr. Elliott Charng, the Director General of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of R.O.C. , and several leaders from fishing industry.
Signing of the agreement is based on equality, mutual respect and common benefit
The COA stated that the Marshall Islands is one of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies in the Pacific and has maintained a long fisheries partnership with Taiwan. The waters surrounding the Marshall Islands are rich in tuna and are important fishing grounds for Taiwanese tuna fishing vessels. With annual catch of 160,000 to 220,000 tones which translates to a value of NT$7 billion, Taiwan’s tuna purse seine vessels operate within Exclusive Economic Zones of seven Pacific island countries, including the Marshall Islands. Recognizing the necessity for enhancing fisheries cooperation on existing relationship, Taiwan has commenced bilateral negotiation with the competent authority of the Marshall Islands since 2015 in accordance with the principles of equality, mutual respect and common benefit. Through intensive communication made by both COA and the Taiwan’s Embassy in the Marshall Islands, a consensus on fisheries cooperation agreement was reached. The agreement signed on August 29 secures a more stable business environment for Taiwanese industry and also further strengthen bilateral relationship between Taiwan and the Marshall Islands.
Enhance bilateral fisheries cooperation
The COA explained that in the past, fisheries cooperation with the Marshall Islands had been limited to fisheries access and investment from private sectors. The said agreement with the Marshall Islands expands the scope and degree of cooperation to cover promotion of fishing ventures, post-harvest fishing logistics and marketing, joint fisheries conservation and management, fisheries information exchange, and combating illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing practices. The COA believes that the said agreement would further promote fisheries cooperation between Taiwan and the Marshall Islands while increasing bilateral benefit.
Meeting international demand by combating IUU fishing
The COA further stated that in addition to addressing the issue of the development of fishery cooperation, the said agreement also secure management and conservation of fisheries resources by cooperation in order to ensure sustainable development. Recognizing 10 billion to 23 billion US dollars in losses caused by IUU fishing every year, the international community has been working together to prevent and combat IUU fishing. Both Taiwan and the Republic of the Marshall Islands are confident that through combating IUU fishing, the two nations can benefit from mutual cooperation and maintain a long-lasting fishery development.