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Cablegate: Iccat Sanctions and Fishing Boat Problems: A Visit

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.






E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: A. Tinkham/Chang email of December 1, 2005.
B. 04 TAIPEI 4074
C. TAIPEI 4788

1. Summary. December 1 AIT/T Econoffs visited Council of
Agriculture Deep-Sea Fisheries Director Tsay Tzu-yaw to
discuss recent sanctions, upcoming meetings and the USCG
request to board a Taiwan fishing vessel. Tsay said the
sanctions were too severe and the Taiwan response is still
pending. Econoffs emphasized that Taiwan should remain a
member of the International Convention on the Conservation
of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) and should try to satisfy ICCAT's
requirements. Tsay referred future requests for boarding
Taiwan fishing vessels to MOFA. Action request in para 12.
End summary

ICCAT sanctions

2. Econ Chief and ESTH officer visited Tsay Tzu-yaw,
Director of the Deep-Sea Fisheries division of the Council
of Agriculture Fisheries Administration on December 1, 2005
to raise the issue of recommendations by the International
Convention on Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) to
reduce Taiwan's big-eye tuna catch by 70 percent. Tsay said
the decision was a harsh one. He said that despite
remonstrations by the Taiwan ICCAT delegation, strict
penalties were imposed that Taiwan would find very difficult
to accept. Tsay emphasized that the Taiwan delegation at the
Seville meeting found it hard to accept the ICCAT decision.
He said that the Fisheries Administration Deputy Director
was in Kaohsiung consulting with Taiwan's fishing industry
on Taiwan's response.

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3. Econ Chief, drawing on points in ref A, said that
ICCAT's decision was fair from the U.S. point of view and
that Taiwan needed to stay engaged with ICCAT and manage its
fishing fleets to prevent overfishing. Tsay mentioned that
the Fisheries Administration could impose on errant Taiwan
vessels, fines and revocation of fishing licenses from 3
months to a year. In severe cases licenses could be taken
away indefinitely.

4. Comment: Tsay's statement that Taiwan has yet to make a
decision on how to respond to the ICCAT sanctions is
surprising because senior Taiwan officials have already made
public statements citing the need for Taiwan to improve its
management of Taiwan fishing fleets and for Taiwan to accept
the sanctions. On November 21, local press articles
reported that Premier Frank Hsieh (Chang-ting) said that
Taiwan is willing to comply with international fishing
regulations. On November 23, Fisheries Administration
Director General Hsieh Da-wen said that Taiwan needed to
improve management of its fishing fleet and comply with
ICCAT rules.

5. Tsay evaded AIT questions on the issue of Taiwan vessels
registering with and fishing out of third-country ports. As
reported in ref C, some Taiwan fishermen complain that the
sanctions are the result of failure by Taiwan officials to
regulate Taiwan-owned vessels that operate out of third
countries; that law-abiding Taiwan-flagged vessels are
punished while no effective measures are taken against
vessels flying flags of convenience. End Comment.


6. Tsay said it was possible that Taiwan could face
further sanctions at the upcoming WCPFC meeting in Pohnpei,
Micronesia. He said that Taiwan could learn valuable
lessons from the U.S. experience in reacting to reduced
quotas for catching blue fin tuna in the 1990's. He asked
for information on how the U.S. had handled industry
concerns and downsizing its tuna-fishing fleet.

7. Tsay said that Taiwan is concerned about the boarding
and inspection procedures for its fishing boats operating in
the western Pacific. Taiwan is concerned that it not be
treated any differently than any other members and asked for
U.S. confirmation that the same procedures are used.

8. Tsay said that Taiwan favors good management of tuna
stocks in the western Pacific and supports in principle U.S.
proposals tabled for the upcoming WCPFC conference for the
conservation of northern albacore.

9. Tsay said the Taiwan delegation to the December 12
meeting would like to discuss with the U.S. delegation rules
and procedures governing the scientific committee, technical
committee and the northern committee to confirm Taiwan
delegation's understanding of these rules. Tsay said
Taiwan's delegation would exceed 10 people, including
industry reps and official delegates. The delegation will
stay at the hotel Yvonne (contact tel: 30-5130).
Suspect fishing vessel

10. AIT/T raised the recent incident involving Taiwan
suspected narco-trafficking vessel Shin Yeou No. 16 off the
coast of Colombia and a USCG request to board the vessel. A
Taiwan interagency group recommended to allow boarding, but
the final decision was stalled by MOFA. To date AIT/T has
not received a formal response from MOFA on Taiwan's final
determination. The boat was boarded by Colombian authorities
for illegal fishing in its EEZ and taken to Cartagena. On
board were six illegal aliens. MOFA North American affairs
director Leo Lee told us on Nov. 30 that the Colombians had
identified the undocumented aliens as one Vietnamese and
five PRC nationals. Lee also said no other evidence of
illicit activity has been reported. Lee indicated that the
undocumented aliens boarded the F/V via the "go fast" boat
that had originally attracted the attention of the USCG
patrol aircraft.

11. Tsay said that future requests to board Taiwan vessels
should be sent to MOFA for action. Tsay was surprised that
AIT/T had not received any formal response from MOFA.

12. Action request: AIT/T requests Washington agencies
guidance to respond to Tsay's request for information
regarding 1) U.S. experience in responding to sharp cuts in
quotas (para 6); 2) Taiwan concerns about procedures for
boarding and searching vessels in the Pacific (para 7); and
USdel interest in meeting the Taiwan delegation in Pohnpei
(para 9). End action request.


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