Thursday, October 01, 2015

Fishing Excerpts and Links

Fishing boats in Houbihu harbor

The EU threatens Taiwan with sanctions for overfishing:
The European Union is threatening to take trade action against Taiwan and the Comoros if they do not contain within six months illegal and unregulated fishing, which is a major contributor to the depletion of key commercial stocks
which reminded me that I wanted to post on this. This journal article on Taiwan fishing boats and safety observes that overfishing has increased the risk to Taiwanese fishing boats...:
According to Taiwanese fisheries regulations, the captain and the chief engineer must be of Taiwanese nationality for fishing boats below 100 tons. Boats over 100 tons require another Taiwanese chief mate. With the recent increases in oil prices and the stagnant fish prices, most fishermen hire foreign workers to cut down costs. Taiwanese fishing boats are now manned by one Taiwanese captain and all-foreign crews.


On the other hand, over-fishing has caused the degradation of marine resources, so Taiwanese fishing boats must travel far from traditional fishing areas to catch fish, even in facing the increased vessel risk. The lack of willing Taiwanese crewmen introduces risk to the Taiwanese fishing industry as a whole. Since the youngest do not like to work in the fishing industry, the captain is forced to employ foreign crewmen with the introducing tensions.

In Taiwan, the majority of fishing boat captains and crewmen inherit their father's work and are not well-educated. The quality of crewmen is irregular. Therefore, the leadership and experience of the captain are often insufficient.
Fishing factoid (source):
"Tuna flesh turns brown and unappetizing for sashimi unless it is treated very carefully. Normal freezing temperatures are not suitable, but if tunas are frozen at -60C they can be frozen for months or years at sashimi-grade quality."
Years? That same chapter says that Taiwanese fishing boats operate in the Atlantic to poach tuna, which they then say was caught in the Pacific. They defended this practice with the usual "everyone does it" but interestingly, when Japan accused Taiwan in 2004 of laundering tuna in this way, the government in Taiwan didn't do anything because of the importance of the port of Kaohsiung in southern electoral politics.

Readers with much experience in the political economy of agriculture will recognize this problem described in this paper on Subsidies to Tuna Fishing:
Tuna fisheries in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean are among the most valuable resources in the region. These fisheries, worth an estimated $4.1 billion each year, play a pivotal role in supporting incomes and development goals in the region. However, due to the twin, and potentially inter-related effects of harmful fishing practices such as the use of fish aggregating devices, overcapacity, and fisheries subsidies, many of these tuna fisheries are currently at risk of over-exploitation—putting the livelihoods of countless local fishers at risk. This study finds that government fisheries subsidies in the region represent 37% of the ex-vessel value of tuna fisheries in the region. Fuel subsidies are estimated at US$ 335 million and non-fuel subsidies are estimated at US$ 1.2 billion for the year 2009. Developed countries are responsible for more than half of the subsidies spent in the predominantly developing region, underlying the fact that the majority of tuna value extracted from the national waters of developing countries in the region benefit larger, developed countries. The total resource rent, or return to society, from tuna fisheries, once adjusted for subsidies is a net negative US$750 million in 2009. Fisheries subsidies are enabling foreign fleets to operate at sub-market rates, putting local fleets out of competition for their own fishery resources.
This paper, which proposes closing the high seas to all fishing, notes that the big losers economically would be South Korea, Japan, and of course, Taiwan.

Old posts: Greenpeace occupy action on Taiwanese boat overfishing, background on Phils killing of Taiwanese boat captain mess.
Daily Links:

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Stephen said...

"The European Union is threatening to take trade action against Taiwan..."

Taiwan? What Taiwan. You can't talk to Taiwan as an independent entity! Taiwan is part of China!

Threaten China with trade sanctions.

les said...

@Stephen. Funny how exceptions can be made to the rules of engagement in 'special circumstances' eh?

Anonymous said...

It's about time Taiwan was held accountable for raping the oceans and stealing its future.

Anonymous said...


Taiwan can not be "held accountable for raping the oceans and stealing its future" because Taiwan is supposedly not a country, not a sovereign entity.

You need to admit that someone is a "person" before you can bring him/her to court, don't you?

You cannot bring a non-existing non-entity to court, because a court cannot deal with a ghost.

Taiwan has never been invited to any international organization to sign any international contract to commit to not "raping the oceans and stealing its future", how can Taiwan know how much fishing would constitute the amount that surpasses what the international community dictates as the threshold of "raping the oceans and stealing its future"?

Either you want Taiwan to be a responsible member of the international community (then, deal with Taiwan as a country) or you don't.