Taiwan has acted to fine the owner and captain of a vessel involved in various labor abuses – and allegedly shark finning as well – though the punishments are unlikely to be viewed as much of a deterrent for others in the industry.
The News Lens
Taiwan’s Fisheries Agency (FA) on Thursday announced at a press conference that it will fine and suspend the license of the Taiwanese distant water fishing vessel Fuh Sheng 11 after completing an investigation into labor abuse at sea, while another vessel received a heftier fine for illegal shark finning.
However, an NGO which independently spoke to Fuh Sheng 11 crew members criticized the FA for levying insufficient penalties and conducting a flawed initial investigation into the vessel, which had been inconsistent with the findings of South African investigators.
The FA, which regulates Taiwan’s lucrative fishing industry, levied a total of NT$3.75 million (US$121,546) in fines towards the Fuh Sheng 11 and suspended its fishing license for five months (see a breakdown of the fines below) after that vessel became the first ever detained for violating the International Labour Organization’s Work in Fishing Convention (C188) when docked in Cape Town, South Africa. Along with the penalties, the FA has forwarded the case to the Kaohsiung District Prosecutor’s Office to investigate possible violations of Taiwan’s Human Trafficking Prevention Act.
Max Schmid, the deputy director of London-based NGO Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), said Thursday’s penalties were “not sufficient,” telling The News Lens that “the initial fines are a first step, but they’re not enough alone as a deterrent.” EJF had released a video on Sept. 12 detailing brutal beatings of Indonesian crew members, 22-hour work days, and underpayment or nonpayment, as well as the illegal finning of sharks, including endangered hammerheads. [FULL STORY]