EU gives yellow card to Taiwan

The European Commission issued a “yellow card” warning to Taiwan today, labeling the nation “uncooperative” in fighting Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.

The commission issued a similar warning to the Comoros, an island nation off the eastern coast of Africa, and also announced it was delisting Ghana and Papua New Guinea, declaring those countries had reformed their fisheries management systems.

“Today's decisions demonstrate the determination of the European Union to bring important players on board in the fight against IUU fishing. Both Ghana and Papua New Guinea have taken ownership of their fisheries reforms and now have robust legal and policy frameworks in place to fight IUU fishing activities,” said Karmenu Vella (pictured), European commissioner for environment, maritime affairs and fisheries. “I am calling on the authorities of the Comoros and Taiwan to follow their example and join the European Union in promoting legal and sustainable fisheries worldwide.”

The commission based its decision on Taiwan on what it called “serious shortcomings” in that country’s fisheries management, a lack of proper monitoring of fisheries, a weak system of sanctions and a lack of compliance with regional fisheries management organization obligations.

Environmental activist group Greenpeace praised the commission’s move against Taiwan, echoing the commission’s concerns that the Taiwanese government is not doing enough.

“The yellow card highlights that Taiwan’s fisheries management does not comply with international requirements,” said Yen Ning, Greenpeace East Asia oceans campaigner. “Too often, Taiwan’s fisheries agency has let off or played down IUU cases. This cannot go on being tolerated.”

Greenpeace noted two examples: The Taiwanese flagged vessel, Yu Fong 168, which has been listed as an IUU vessel by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission since 2009, and the case last month of Greenpeace activists claiming they caught another Thai vessel, the Shuen De Ching No. 888, with a cargo of illegal shark fins. While that vessel was reported escorted back to port by Taiwanese authorities, the government still has no idea where Yu Fong 168 is, according to Greenpeace.

“Taiwan has a choice. Taiwan’s fisheries problem is too many boats and too little control,” Ning said. “Taiwan must clean up its fisheries management, or risk the international disgrace and economic consequences of a red card.”

Regarding the Comoros, the commission accused the nation of delegating management to a third party and other problems with the country’s legal system, a poor system of sanctions and poor monitoring and surveillance of its fisheries.

Both countries now have six months to demonstrate changes to its management practices or the commission will recommend EU seafood-related trade sanctions against both countries. The EU has issued similar sanctions already to countries such as Cambodia, Guinea and Sri Lanka. Taiwan alone exports an estimated EUR 13 million (USD 14.5 million) in seafood annually to EU markets.

The commission also announced it was delisting Ghana and Papua New Guinea as uncooperative nations, following efforts by both countries to improve monitoring, sanctioning systems and legal frameworks to help combat IUU fishing. The commission noted several countries – including Korea – improved their fisheries management as a result of an EU yellow card warning.

The commission estimated that between 11 and 26 million metric tons of fish are caught illegally a year, corresponding to at least 15 percent of world catches. Its global value may be as high as EUR 10 billion (USD 11.2 billion) per year.


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