Taiwan fisheries group denies Greenpeace claims

The Fisheries Agency yesterday denied accusations that Taiwan is complicit in overfishing in the western and central Pacific Ocean, saying the building of fishing vessels is strictly controlled by the government and that all newly built fishing vessels are replacements of old boats.

On Friday in Greater Kaohsiung, Greenpeace environmentalists unfurled a large banner that read “Overfishing starts here” in English and “No fish in the ocean, still building more boats” in Chinese, at one of the nation’s largest shipyards.

The group alleged that the Taiwanese government is undermining international fishing agreements and allowing more efficient fishing boats to be built.

Greenpeace said the agency agreed in 2008 to follow the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission’s (WCPFC) advice to limit the number of fishing days for its purse-seine tuna fleets in an effort to help Pacific tuna stocks recover from overfishing. However, it still allows the shipbuilding industry to build bigger ships with larger storage capacity, Greenpeace said.

It said the agency approved 22 new big purse seine ships between 2007 and this year, accumulating a total tonnage of 38,988 metric tons worth of new purse seines boats in five years — five times greater than the tonnage of Japan, 14 times that of China and 38 times that of South Korea.

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