Legislators yesterday planned to lift compensation for Taiwan deep-sea fishing industry operators in an attempt to offer reasonable aid for affected bigeye tuna fishing ship owners in the face of a new international fishing quota ruling.
Admonishing Taiwan fishing vessels for overfishing, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna decided last month to cut Taiwan's bigeye tuna catch quota in the Atlantic Ocean from 14,900 tons in 2005 to a 4,600 for the coming year.
This new regulation cut almost 70 percent of Taiwan's annual big-eye tuna catch quota for 2006.
Taiwan currently has 76 deep-sea fishing vessels specializing in catching bigeye tuna in the Atlantic Ocean, but only 15 of those vessels will be allowed to operate there in the coming year. The affected fishermen requested the government compensate for their losses.
In face of the new international regulations, the Fisheries Administration under the Council of Agriculture has planned to call back 42 vessels and provide nearly NT$6 million for each boat operator.
The authority said they would not subsidize 15 fishing vessels that continue to fish big-eye tuna. Nineteen of the other ships will instead fish for longfin tuna.
These fishing industry operators, however, complained that the government would not compensate these fishermen for their losses. The ship owners have estimated that they will lose an estimated NT$14.23 million in 2006 due to the reduced quotas.
Vice Chairman of Council of Agriculture Lee Chien-chuan(?��?�??wever, said the authority will coordinate with the Ministry of Finance to exempt these fishermen from having to pay business and commodity taxes.
If the operators aren't satisfied with the allowance, the government will continue to negotiate with the fishermen, the vice chairman said.
The Legislature's Economics and Energy Committee will discuss the possible compensation tomorrow.
Kuomintang Legislator Lwo Shih-hsiung, one of the economics and energy committee conveners, said the authority may provide reasonable compensation, around NT$9.2 million, for each boat operator.
If all legislators in the committee agree to the newly proposed compensation, the authority will use the preparatory funds to aid these fishermen, Lwo said.
Vice chairman Lee said he supported Lwo's proposal.
In addition, the Taiwan Tuna Association is scheduled to mobilize tuna fishing operators to protest in Taipei this Thursday.
Despite the new regulations in the Atlantic Ocean, Fisheries Administration Deputy Director-General Sha Chih-yi said there is the chance of an international fishery meeting imposing sanctions on Taiwan for its fishing practices in the Pacific Ocean.
The official made the remarks as the second annual meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission began yesterday.
Sha said the opening of the meeting was ceremonial, and that substantial discussions will begin today. Japan is expected to make fresh allegations about Taiwan's fishing practices on the high seas, but Taiwan will defend its fishing rights and elaborate on its fishing policies over the past year.