15 fishing by-laws to come into force Jan. 20: Fisheries Agency

The agency has discussed the by-laws with visiting officials from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries to make sure they are adequate, said Huang Hung-yen (黃鴻燕), the agency’s deputy chief.

The officials urged Taiwan to present an action plan on enforcing the 15 by-laws after they come into force and said the EU will decide whether to remove Taiwan from the watch list based on how the laws are carried out, according to the agency’s Deep Sea Fisheries Division.

The government hopes that Taiwan can get off the list in April or October, the division said.

In October 2015, the European Commission gave Taiwan a “yellow card” and warned that the country risks being identified as uncooperative in the fight against “illegal, unreported and unregulated” fishing.

The warning followed a report by Greenpeace that a Taiwanese fishing vessel, the Shuen De Ching No. 888, had been seen illegally harvesting shark fins and throwing the finned sharks back into the water near Papua New Guinea in the South Pacific.

If the issue is not addressed by the end of March 2017, Taiwan will risk trade sanctions by the European Union.

To step up Taiwan’s efforts against illegal fishing by deep-sea fishing vessels, the Legislative Yuan passed the Act for Distant Water Fisheries and amended the Fisheries Act and the Act to Govern Investment in the Operation of Foreign Flag Fishing Vessels last year.

According to the statute, which will become effective on Jan. 20, vessels over 500 tons will be fined between NT$6 million and NT$30 million, while those between 100 tons and 500 tons will be fined between NT$4 million and NT$20 million for illegal fishing.

Ships between 50 tons and 100 tons will be fined between NT$2 million and NT$10 million, while those under 50 tons will be fined between NT$1 million and NT$5 million.

Repeat offenders will face increased fines of up to NT$45 million.

In addition to the fines, the operators and fishermen will have their licenses recalled or revoked.

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