Houston, We Have Problem. Nasa: Um, No We Don’t.
Two articles published on the net today provide quite a contrast. First here is the Taipei Times article noting the arrival of the Greenpeace ship Esperanza in Keelung:
Greenpeace Taiwan’s oceans campaigner Yen Ning (顏寧) said that based on statistics compiled by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization in 2010, about 85 percent of fish species are being overfished, and according to a research paper published in Science magazine in 2006, all populations of fish and seafood species are projected to collapse by 2048 if the problem of overfishing is not solved.
“About 60 percent of the world’s tuna catch comes from the west-central Pacific, and Taiwan’s tuna fishing vessels play an important role in the region — with 53 large fishing vessels invested in or registered by fishermen, and nearly 1,600 longline fishing vessels in the region,” Yen said.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature has listed three of the four major tuna species in the region as threatened or near threatened, she said, adding that the number of big eye tuna has dropped by 29 percent in the past 15 years and the number of yellowfin tuna has declined by 21 percent in the past decade.
The organization’s interviews with about 50 tuna fishermen from Siaoliouciou Island (小琉球), Pingtung County’s Donggang Township and Green Island (綠島) revealed that nearly all the fishermen noticed that fish stocks are running low and that fish are becoming smaller.
Many fishermen said that most fish are caught by the large seine fishing vessels in distant waters, leaving them with few big tuna to catch offshore, Greenpeace said, adding that large fishing nets can encircle an area the size of 60 soccer fields to a depth of about three ferris wheels stacked on top of each other.
So … clearly there is a problem of overfishing. Industrialisation not only wipes out viability of future stocks but is economically unsustainable in terms of protecting the livelihoods of the smaller farmers. Now here is the ROC Government’s line as published in the Taiwan Today:
Taiwan is ahead of international standards in its measures to protect bluefin tuna and other species, the Fisheries Agency under the ROC Council of Agriculture said Oct. 3.
The country lists bluefin tuna for conservation and limits the number of vessels allowed to fish for them, the agency said. In addition, catch certificates for bluefin are required for processing and trading.
The comments came in response to criticism from Greenpeace International, whose ship Esperanza arrived in Taiwan Oct. 2 for a two-week visit with port calls to Keelung, Xiaoliuqiu Island and Kaohsiung as part of the organization’s campaign for protection of the world’s oceans.
The Fisheries Agency noted that Taiwan is a member of the Extended Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna, Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission, International Scientific Committee for Tuna and Tuna-like Species in the North Pacific Ocean, and Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission. It also recently joined the South Pacific Region Fisheries Management Organisation.
“We will continue to cooperate with other members of these bodies to enhance the sustainable use of fishery resources,” the agency said, pointing out that a large portion of its budget related to deep-sea fishing in the last 10 years has gone to controlling the number of boats, upholding fishing moratoriums, patrolling the high seas and training crews and fishery observers.
The agency also plans to step up ocean conservation efforts in major fishing villages and with fishery businesses.
First, it’s all very well have lists and requiring certificates and being a member of various organisations but, even when the law is concerned, that doesn’t stop the illegal finning of shark for example so please excuse me if I don’t take the Government’s reassurances at face value.
Second, when you say you are ahead of international standards to protect certain tuna stocks that is a very relative claim to make. If the standards are low then being ahead of them is not a hard feat. If the standards are high but no-one really implements them then you tar yourself in association.
Finally, if the Fisheries Agency put as much effort into protecting dwindling fish stocks and ending the disgusting practice of shark fin fishing as the Coast Guard Administration puts into protecting fishermen who sail to the Senkakus to help Ma undermine Taiwan-Japan and Taiwan-US relations then I’d feel more optimistic that the fishing industry has a viable future.