6 Oct 2008

Tonga gets regional support for bid to prosecute Taiwanese vessel

5:34 pm on 6 October 2008

Tonga's bid to get a Taiwanese fishing vessel prosecuted for illegal fishing in its waters has gained support at a meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission in Pohnpei.

The WCPFC is having its fourth regular session of the Technical and Compliance Committee this week in Federated States of Micronesia.

The Matangi Tonga news service reports that the Committee has agreed that the F/V Chu Huai No.638 be listed on the provisional Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Vessel list.

A decision will be made at the 5th session in Korea this December.

The Taiwanese fishing vessel was caught fishing without a licence for 13 days in January.

Taipei suspended the fishing licence of the vessel for 3 months, and the captain's licence for 6 months.

However, Tonga does not consider this a strong enough punishment and is looking to enforce its national law as stipulated under the UN Law of the Sea Convention.

Under these measures, the vessel would be fined 1.2 million US dollars and have to disclose the total catch to Tonga.