By Samantha Semoso – EMTV Online
Taiwan government authorities have denied that a tuna boat boarded by Greenpeace activists had been fishing without permission in the high seas close to Papua New Guinea’s waters.
Focus Taiwan News Channel reported that a spokesperson for the Fisheries Bureau ensured the fishing vessel, Shuen De Ching No. 888, had received official authorisation of breaching international laws by the action taken.
The Taiwanese representative pointed out that in May the vessel operator had sent an application to the secretariat of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) and received a reply the same day, in line with the standard procedures of the conservation and the management measures adopted by the commission in 2013.
Therefore, he ensured them that the positon of the fishing vessel had been under the supervision of the WCPFC secretariat, and it was operationally in the Central Pacific region.
However, Greenpeace representatives claimed that enquiries with the WCPFC and the Pacific Islands Forum Agency revealed nothing matching the name of the ship’s radio call sign on their list of vessels authorised to fish in these waters, or in the waters of any neighbouring Pacific island countries.
The NGO reported that its activists boarding the ship uncovered sacks containing 75 kilograms of shark fins from at least 42 sharks while under Taiwanese law and the Pacific fishing rules, “shark fins may not exceed 5 per cent of the weight of the shark catch, and with only three shark carcasses reported in the log book, the vessel was in clear violation of both [regulations].”
As to this accusation, the Fisheries Bureau stated that an investigation into finning will be conducted and that if it is proved to be the case, the violators will face legal consequences.
Meanwhile, Greenpeace New Zealand has reported the case to the WCPFC and neighbouring Pacific island countries, and is adding the vessel to the Greenpeace pirate fishing blacklist and urging seafood retailers to stop buying from the vessel and its owners.
“We demand that the Taiwanese government orders this illegal vessel to stop fishing and return to port immediately for full and transparent investigation. There is a Taiwanese patrol boat in the region and this is exactly the sort of illegal activity they should be tackling,” said Karli Thomas, Greenpeace New Zealand oceans campaigner.