October 1, 2008

Taiwan, New Zealand Activate Mutual Fishery Check Mechanism

Text of report in English by Taiwanese Central News Agency website

[By Deborah Kuo]

Kaohsiung, Oct. 1 (CNA) - A mechanism between Taiwan and New Zealand to help uncover illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities (IUU fishing) has been activated recently, the Fisheries Agency under the Cabinet-level Council of Agriculture reported Wednesday.

The Fisheries Agency said that Taiwanese deep-sea fishing boats operating in the West and Central Pacific Ocean should let New Zealand fishery officials or police board and inspect their vessels - after establishing that the New Zealand authorities are genuine - to help crack down on transboundary IUU fishing.

About 1,500 Taiwanese fishing boats are currently operating in the West and Central Pacific Ocean areas, mainly to commercially fish tuna, sharks and sailfish.

Of the total, 100 smaller longline fishing vessels, usually used to fish tuna, that operate in open seas or in other countries' economic zones under contract from those countries are the most likely to be targeted for inspection, the Fisheries Agency said.

An agency official said Taiwanese vessels that don't cooperate with the inspections or are found to have violated regulations could be banned from fishing commercially in those areas.

Taiwanese fishing boats under scrutiny are urged to have relevant documentation and fishing logbooks ready for the inspections.

They should also be properly equipped with fish size measurement gear and monitoring equipment that helps them avoid catching protected sea turtles or sea birds or amassing younger fish they are not allowed to catch.

The Taiwan-New Zealand mutual fishery examination mechanism marked the first time that Taiwan has participated in such inspection efforts aimed at maximizing long term benefits from the Pacific Ocean since the West and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) passed an agreement in December 2006, the official said.

Taiwan is a WCPFC member.

The worldwide value of IUU catches are worth up to US$9.5 billion, a World Commission on Protected Areas' High Seas Task Force study shows. IUU catches make up about 14 per cent of the value of the global marine catch, based on figures available for 2001.

Up to 30 per cent of IUU fishing occurs beyond national jurisdiction, where there are fewer controls, according to the study.

Sharks and deep sea fish are being caught at an unsustainable rate, and fragile coral reefs, seamounts and sponge beds are in peril from destructive fishing practices such as bottom trawling, according to the study.

Originally published by Central News Agency website, Taipei, in English 0630 1 Oct 08.

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