2005-11-28 / central news agency /
Taiwan deep-sea fishing industry operators must abide by the latest international ruling on bigeye tuna fishing in the Atlantic Ocean and the government will offer reasonable aid to affected shipowners, the Council of Agriculture said over the weekend.
The COA's Fisheries Administration was responding to media reports that Taiwan fishermen based in Cape Town, South Africa, said they plan to end their businesses and return to Taiwan to seek government compensation because their operations will be profitless under the punitive new international ruling.
Blaming Taiwan fishing vessels for overfishing in past years, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna decided last Sunday to cut Taiwan's bigeye tuna fishing quota from 14,900 tons in 2005 to a mere 4,600 tons for the coming year. Moreover, the ICCAT requires Taiwan fishing vessels to make a port call at Cape Town every three months to be examined.
Under the new ICCAT ruling, Cape Town-based Taiwan fishermen were reported as having complained that they can no longer make a profit from fishing in the Atlantic. Therefore, they said they will return to Taiwan and seek government compensation for their losses.
Commenting on the reports, Fisheries Administration Director Hsieh Ta-wen said Taiwan must faithfully abide by the ICCAT ruling if it wants to have its 2007 quota return to a normal level.
Taiwan now has 76 deep-sea fishing vessels specializing in catching big-eye tuna in the Atlantic. In the face of the new ICCTA quota ruling, Hsieh said the government will only allow 15 of those vessels to continue fishing in the coming year.
An additional 20 of the ships will fish instead for longfin tuna and the remaining 41 will be dismantled or grounded, Hsieh said, adding that the Fisheries Administration will step up communications with fishing industry operators and help them tide over the difficulties resulting from the new quota restrictions.