Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture signed fisheries cooperation agreements with Tuvalu and Nauru after a year of negotiations.
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Two separate agreements were signed with Tuvalu and Nauru, with Tuvaluan Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga, Nauruan Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade Michael Aroi and top fisheries officials of the three nations attending the signing ceremonies.
Tuvalu and Nauru are two of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies in the South Pacific and have fisheries partnerships with Taiwan, while the waters surrounding the two nations are rich in tuna and are important fishing grounds for Taiwanese fishermen, the council said.
Taiwan’s tuna industry produces 160,000 to 220,000 tonnes of tuna per year and is worth NT$7 billion ($213.73 million). Most of the nation’s tuna-fishing vessels operate in waters within 200 nautical miles (370km) of South Pacific nations, including Tuvalu and Nauru.
The council reached an understanding with both nations after a year of negotiations.
The agreements are a milestone for Taiwanese fishing boats, that are now able to unload catches in Tuvalu and Nauru, Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Chih-ching said.
“Most of Taiwan’s purse seiners operate in waters near the two nations. Following the signing of the agreement, the two nations would be able to board Taiwanese fishing boats to conduct inspections, which is just one aspect of the fisheries cooperation,” Fisheries Agency Director-General Tsay Tzu-yaw said.
The agreement expands the scope and degree of cooperation to cover promotion of fishing ventures; post-harvest fishing processing and marketing; joint fisheries conservation; information sharing on fishing activities; and combating illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing practices.
IUU fishing causes international losses of between $10 billion and $23 billion every year, with the U.S. and the EU banning the import of aquatic products from nations that fail to cooperate in the fight against IUU fishing. ■