Taiwanese 'pirates' in Palau. (Photo: Greenpeace)
Taiwanese vessel fined for illegally catching sharks
Friday, February 17, 2012, 00:50 (GMT + 9)
The Palauan Government has announced a settlement after arresting a Taiwanese vessel seized for illegally catching and finning sharks during a joint enforcement operation with Greenpeace in December.
The vessel operators will have to pay a USD 65,000 civil fine. Further, the ship involved in the alleged violation of the shark-fishing law as well as its captain will both be banned from fishing in Palauan waters for one year.
Palau designated its territorial waters a shark sanctuary in 2009 in response to reports that global shark populations are being severely slashed for their fins to meet a high demand for the item, which comprises a traditional delicacy in Chinese cuisine.
“The vessel and its captain were in breach of Palauan law, and both will not be allowed to operate in our waters for one year. This payment will be used to strengthen our ability to monitor our waters for illegal fishing activity, enforce our regulations, protect our fish supplies and the health of our oceans”, said Palau President Johnson Toribiong.
Palauan authorities got on board Taiwan's Sheng Chi Hui No 7 in December after Greenpeace activists shot photos from a helicopter of the boat's crew hauling sharks onto the deck, Deutsce Presse-Agentur reports.
“This judgment should be seen as a deterrent to foreign fishers. Palau Government is committed to protect the people of Palau as without fish there is no future for our people”, he added.
Toribiong expressed the country's gratitude for Greenpeace's help in patrolling territorial waters to apprehend the vessel and for highlighting the impacts of illegal fishing in the Pacific Ocean.
Greenpeace and the government of Palau signed a joint agreement in December to together enforce fisheries regulations and bring illegal pirate fishing operations to justice as part of Greenpeace's “Defending our Pacific” ship expedition.
It is estimated that between 21 and 46 per cent of all fishing in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean is illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU).The plunder of fish from the Pacific is putting food security and economic prosperity of regional countries such as Palau at risk.
“Now we are calling on the Taiwanese government -- as the responsible flag state -- to better regulate its fishing industry”, affirmed Lagi Toribau, head of Greenpeace's oceans team.
Taiwan’s Fisheries Agency says it has warned fishers against catching sharks in Palau's waters and that it will not protect Taiwanese boats that do not abide by the laws of foreign countries while in their territories.
Just like most other Pacific Island countries, Palau must patrol its vast oceanic territories with very limited capacity; it has merely one patrol boat with which to cover more than 604,000 km2 of ocean.
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By Natalia Real
Photo Courtesy of FIS Member Greenpeace International - The Netherlands | Headquarters