Taiwan’s IUU yellow card rescinded by EU following reforms

Published on
June 28, 2019

The European Commission (EC) has lifted the yellow card issued to Taiwan in October 2015 for not fully cooperating in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities, acknowledging the progress made by the country over the past three and a half years.

"I welcome the considerable efforts undertaken by Taiwan to reform its fisheries legal framework, implement new control tools and improve the traceability of marine fisheries products. The European Union's dialogue with Taiwan has shown again that international cooperation is a key driver towards healthier ocean management," said Karmenu Vella, EU commissioner for environment, maritime affairs and fisheries.

Measures taken by Taiwan in cooperation with the E.U. include:

  • A comprehensive review of the distant-water fisheries legal framework, in order to align it with the International Law of the Sea, including though the establishment of a deterrent sanctions scheme
  • Strengthening of the distant-water fleet monitoring and control tools, including a reinforced vessel monitoring system (VMS), the obligation to be equipped with electronic logbook, observer coverage in line with RFMOs requirements and the development of an inspection scheme for both domestic and foreign ports
  • Implementation of the FAO Port States Measures Agreement (PSMA) to foreign-flagged vessels calling in Taiwanese ports
  • An enhanced traceability system covering the whole supply chain
  • Enforcement of the revised legislation and of the new sanctions scheme
  • Significant reinforcement of the financial and human resources dedicated to the fight against IUU fishing 

Taiwan has also reinforced obligations imposed on Taiwanese operators owning fishing vessels flagged to third countries.

To keep building on these achievements, the E.C. is proposing the establishment of a dedicated IUU Working Group. This forum will allow both sides to maintain a close cooperation on matters relating to the fight against IUU fishing, including at the multilateral, regional and sub-regional levels.

In addition, the E.U. and Taiwan will continue addressing labor conditions in the fishing sector in the framework of their human rights consultations.

Taiwan's has the second largest long-distance fleet in the world, and plays a central role in the international supply chain for fisheries products.

Since November 2012, the E.C. has entered in formal dialogues with 25 third-countries – officially warning them of the need to take effective action to fight IUU fishing with a yellow card. 

In response to the lifting of the yellow card, the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) issued a press release calling for assurances that Taiwan increase its enforcement of its promised crackdown on labor abuses in its fleet. The organization has published accounts revealing violent human rights abuses in the Taiwanese fishing fleet and evidence that products from vessels in the Taiwanese fleet where alleged abuses occurred are entering global seafood markets.

“Taiwan has started on the journey to sustainable and ethical fishing, but it has by no means reached the destination,” EJF Executive Director Steve Trent said. “Its new laws need full implementation and rigorous enforcement, recognising that any law is, ultimately, only as good as its enforcement. Likewise, transparency must be improved as a simple, cost-effective way to combat both illegal practices and human rights abuses in the fishing industry. Taiwan has made some progress to allow public scrutiny of its fisheries, but it needs to do more to implement EJF's Charter for Transparency and bring its fishing fleet out of the shadows. Bringing its laws fully in line with key international conventions and revealing the true beneficial ownership of vessels are critical next steps that we urge Taiwan to take.”

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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