The Act for Distant Water Fisheries, the amended Act to Govern Investment in the Operation of Foreign Flag Fishing Vessels, the revised articles of the Fisheries Act, and 15 relating regulations entered into force on this 20th day of January. The Council of Agriculture (COA) urged boat owners and others in the industry to strictly comply with these laws and regulations, as well as the conservation and management measures promulgated by international organizations, in order that Taiwan's distant water fishing industry may keep in line with the norms of sustainable development, with an effort to promote sustainable distant water fishing operations.
Adjusting the legal framework of Distant Water Fisheries Act meeting international trend in combating illegal fisheries
The COA stated that Taiwan is one of the world’s major high seas fishing nations, contributing to an annual landing of over 800,000 metric tons with a value of over NT$43 billion, of which exports account for over 70%. Therefore, in order to fulfill the responsibilities of a flag state while fostering fishery development, and taking into consideration international fisheries management trend, the Council specifically drafted the Act for Distant Water Fisheries, the amended Act to Govern Investment in the Operation of Foreign Flag Fishing Vessels, and revised articles of the Fisheries Act, so as to align domestic legislations with international efforts in combating illegal fishing. The legislations completed three-reading procedure in the Legislative Yuan on July 5, 2016, and were promulgated by the President on July 20, 2016 for entry into force 6 months after promulgation, that is on January 20, 2017.
Defining serious violations clearly and aggravating the sanctions for repeating offenses
The COA pointed out that the Act for Distant Water Fisheries took similar legislations from neighboring countries as reference, regulating not only business owners and practitioners but also placing under their jurisdiction Taiwan nationals, foreign flag fishing vessels entering into Taiwan’s ports, distant water fisheries related businesses, and foreign crew hiring agents. The legislations clearly define the extents of serious violations and their corresponding sanctions, taking into account the trend of international practices and spirits of “confiscation of proceeds of crime” and “sufficient deterrence”. Depending on the extents of violations and vessel tonnages, fines ranging from NT$1 million to 30 million would be imposed. Additionally, sanctions are supplemented with suspension or revocation of licenses, or confiscation of catch, fishing gears, and fishing vessels, etc. Furthermore, repeating offenses are subject to aggravated penalties, with fines 1.5 times that of the fine of the first violation.
Amendment of the Act to Govern Investment in the Operation of Foreign Flag Fishing Vessels to harmonize the provisions of the two Acts
The COA further pointed out that in drafting the Act for Distant Water Fisheries, the Council simultaneously amended the Act to Govern Investment in the Operation of Foreign Flag Fishing Vessels by incorporating the definition of serious violations and corresponding aggravated penalties to harmonize the provisions of the two Acts. The objective is to prevent Taiwan nationals from conducting illegal fishing in the name of foreign flag fishing vessels, whereby evading enforcement of the Act for Distant Water Fisheries.
Supplementary monitoring measures and safeguarding the sustainability of marine fisheries resources
The COA stressed that illegal fishing seriously threatens the sustainability of fisheries resources. As a major fishing nation, Taiwan is determined to take joint efforts with other nations in safeguarding the sustainable development of marine fisheries resources in the high seas. In addition to revising the legal framework, the Council has also implemented a series of measures to strengthen monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS). Among others, they include, requirement of installation of E-logbook equipment on fishing vessels, designation of overseas port for transshipping and landing of catch, mechanism of landing declaration, inspection at domestic and overseas ports, increase the hiring of observers, and increase personnel for overseas postings to enhance inspection capability. In order to eradicate illegal fishing activities, the Executive Yuan has established an inter-ministerial ad hoc committee to effectively integrate the management capacity of various ministries. In the future, the government will enhance monitoring and control management, through continuous international cooperation with port states, market states, and regional fisheries management organizations. Relevant industries and businesses are required to abide by the law, and work in concert with the government on various monitoring, control and enforcement measures, jointly conserving marine fisheries resources to ensure sustainable development of distant water fisheries.