Translated and compiled by Shin-wei Chang
On April 2, the Taiwan government passed the draft for amendment of the Fisheries Act due to being issued a yellow card from the EU. Less than two weeks later, Greenpeace has released a report slamming Taiwan’s fishing industry for human rights abuses and the government for the ineffective implementation of its laws.
Huang Hung-yan, deputy director-general of Taiwan’s Fisheries Agency, today urged Greenpeace to provide the agency with relevant evidence and promised to start investigations upon receiving any new information.
After the EU raised concern about illegal fishing in Taiwan last October, Taiwan’s government has been working on amending the Fisheries Act, reinforcing regulations regarding shark finning, illegal fishing, fishing boat registrations and fisheries tracking systems.
►Related News: EU Red Card for Taiwan? Taiwan Pushing For Fisheries Amendments Raises Discussion
Greenpeace’s latest report reveals, with 1.6 million foreign workers engaged in Taiwan’s fishing industry, human and labor rights abuses are frequently heard of, but few of them have undergone legal investigation.
In addition, despite the existing laws for the fishing industry, Greenpeace says authorities fail to implement the regulations thoroughly, leading to Taiwan’s deep-sea fishery growing out of control.
Human rights abuse of migrant workers
Greenpeace interviewed more than 100 foreign workers in Taiwan and Fiji, finding two thirds of them having faced unjust treatment and human rights abuse.
Moreover, a human trafficking case was busted in 2014, where a Taiwanese-owned fisheries agency recruited more than 1,000 Cambodians worked on Taiwanese fishing boats. BBC reports, the Taiwanese owner exploited the migrant workers without providing sufficient food and time to rest.
Greenpeace also disclosed the content of some interviews, showing how foreign workers often face violence, excessive working hours and withheld salaries.
A 34-year old anonymous Indonesian foreign worker reveals, s/he knew nothing about fishing when s/he first started working on the fishing boat. As a result, s/he was frequently slapped and was beaten five times in a year.
Another 37-year old Indonesian foreign worker, with the pseudonym CK, attributes the violence s/he encountered to misunderstandings and language barriers. CK says, s/he used to be beaten and smashed with objects by the captain. Moreover, the captain even shot him/her with an air gun with rubber bullets.
Even though CK reported the violence to the Taiwan police, no further investigations were conducted due to lack of evidence. CK says that the abuse went on for more than two months.
Greenpeace also reports that many foreign workers have to work over 22 hours a day for months.
Excessive IUU fishing growing out of Taiwan’s control
Greenpeace conducted investigations on the ocean for three months and discovered 16 cases of shark finning with the bodies thrown back to the sea. In comparison, Taiwanese authorities only found 18 cases last year, and few of them were fined.
In addition, the lack of effective implement of regulations and vessel monitoring systems (VMS) in Taiwan allowed frequent illegal fishing cases.
Edited by Olivia Yang
Seafish Taiwan Profile
“Exploitation in Taiwan’s $2bn fishing industry" (BBC)
“Illegal fishing by Taiwanese fleets widespread, linked with rights abuses, Greenpeace report says" (ABC)