Taiwan’s Fisheries Agency is following up claims of illegal activity in the distant water fleet made by Greenpeace. Image: Greenpeace

The Fisheries Agency of Taiwan has stated that it will impose sanctions if allegations made by Greenpeace concerning forced labour and illegal fishing in the Taiwanese distant water fleet are found to be true.

The Greenpeace Choppy Waters – Forced Labor and Illegal Fishing in Taiwan’s Distant Water Fisheries report alleges that some Taiwanese flagged vessels conduct illegal transshipments and have employment contracts that violate regulations on the employment of foreign crew and amount to forced labour conditions.

The Choppy Waters report was published by Greenpeace earlier this month. Image: Greenpeace

The Fisheries Agency states that it has launched an investigation and in the event of any allegations being proved correct, sanctions against offenders will certainly be imposed or such cases forwarded to the Prosecutors Office in instances in which further criminal investigation is appropriate.

The Fisheries Agency of Taiwan has expressed its appreciation to relevant groups for valuing the human rights of crew members, but points out that as relevant information such as time and location of the suspected violation are not included in the Greenpeace report, such an investigation could be difficult.

‘The Fisheries Agency will make further inquiries with Greenpeace to gather clear evidence so as to speed up the investigation. Additionally, the Fisheries Agency emphasises that once concrete evidence was found, the Fisheries Agency will certainly impose sanctions on any offenders accordingly and no quarter will be granted,’ an agency spokesman commented.

Responding to Greenpeace’s call for Taiwanese fisheries companies to increase transparency in the seafood supply chains and to protect the rights and benefits of labour, the Fisheries Agency states that its policy attaches great importance to fisheries resource conservation, ensuring rights and benefits of labour and the promotion of transparency in supply chains.

‘The Fisheries Agency of Taiwan will continue strengthening communication with the business sector, in the expectation of following global trends while improving Taiwanese distant water fisheries and promoting their sustainable development.