The Fisheries Administration under the Council of Agriculture will soon dispatch monitors to 15 Taiwan vessels that will continue to operate in the Atlantic Ocean, fishery officials said yesterday.
The officials noted the administration has recently started a training program and the first batch of 15 trainees will be responsible for monitoring the operations of the vessels and the registration of their catches.
The 15 were originally ocean science observers collecting information of ocean resources, the officials said. They are receiving training on fishery management and disciplinary regulations to facilitate their new tasks.
The Fisheries Administration is planning to train another 15 people, hoping to boost the number of observers stationed on the ships to at least 30 so that they could work on a rotational basis, the officials said.
The officials also said that they are now communicating with port countries via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on arranging the observers to board the Taiwanese vessels either in Las Palmas, Spain, or Cape Town, South Africa.
The first group of 15 observers are expected to board the ships between the end of December and January next year, and they should be able to start work in early 2006.
The observers will monitor the operations of the vessels and check if they have registered their fishery catches according to regulations. They will report the catches daily to the Fisheries Administration, which will in turn report the information to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna.
The ICCAT last month cut Taiwan's total allowable bigeye tuna fishing quota from 14,900 tons in 2005 to a mere 4,600 tons for the coming year because of overfishing by Taiwan fishing vessels.
The decision was made on the last day of the ICCAT's 19th regular meeting held in Seville, Spain, after Japan proposed a quota cut citing overfishing by Taiwanese vessels.
Most bigeye tunas caught by Taiwanese boats are sold to Japan. The amount exported to Japan in the past two years has exceeded the total yearly catch quota, prompting the overfishing allegation.
Japan has also accused the Taipei government of failing to supervise operations of the tuna-fishing industry, saying mismanagement had led to overfishing.
As a result, 42 fishing vessels specializing in catching bigeye tuna in the Atlantic will not be able to operate during 2006. Only 15 Taiwan vessels will be allowed to continue fishing.