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Taiwan: Membership in South Pacific Fisheries Organization

(Sept. 26, 2012) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) of the Republic of China (on Taiwan) announced on September 23, 2012, that Taiwan has officially joined the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (SPRFMO) as a fishing entity under the name “Chinese Taipei.” In conformity with requirements for membership with the inter-governmental body, Taiwan’s representatives submitted a document on August 24 to the effect that Taiwan “agrees to abide by the terms of the Convention on the Conservation and Management of High Seas Fishery Resources in the South Pacific Ocean [hereinafter the Convention].” (Grace Kuo, Taiwan Joins South Pacific Fisheries Body, TAIWAN TODAY (Sept. 24, 2012).)

The MOFA stated that SPRFMO participation “allows us to expand [fishery] activities to the South Pacific region, solidify our fishing privileges on the Pacific high seas and protect the rights of our fishermen working in these waters.” (Id.) About 20 large Taiwan fishing vessels operate in the South Pacific off Peru every year, bringing in an annual catch of about 24,000 metric tons, worth more than NT$1 billion (about US$33.3 million), according to the Taiwan Council of Agriculture’s Fisheries Agency. (Id.) To protect its fishing rights in the Pacific and further its interests in the offshore fishing industry, the MOFA noted, Taiwan has already obtained membership in the International Scientific Committee for Tuna and Tuna-Like Species in the North Pacific Ocean (ISC), the Extended Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT), the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), and the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC). (Id.)

The Convention opened for signature on February 1, 2010, and closed for signature on January 31, 2011 (art. 36, ¶1). It entered into force on August 24, 2012, “30 days after the date of receipt by the Depositary of the eighth instrument of ratification, accession, acceptance or approval” (art. 38, ¶1), following ratification by Chile on July 25. (Status of the Convention & the Convention [click on the hyperlink], both SPRFMO website (both last visited Sept. 24, 2012).)

The Convention is SPRFMO’s governing document. SPRFMO comprises a Commission and several subsidiary bodies and “is committed to the long-term conservation and sustainable use of the fishery resources of the South Pacific Ocean and in so doing safeguarding the marine ecosystems in which the resources occur.” (South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (last visited Sept. 24, 2012).) SPRFMO is especially concerned about fishing of non-highly migratory species, such as jumbo squid, jack mackerel, and orange roughy. (Kuo, supra.) Commission members include Australia, Belize, Chile, the Cook Islands, Cuba, the European Union, Denmark in respect of the Faroe Islands, Korea, New Zealand, and the Russian Federation, in addition to Chinese Taipei. (Id.) Chile, Colombia, the People’s Republic of China, Peru, and the United States have signed but not ratified the Convention. (Status of the Convention, supra.) SPRFMO’s Interim Secretariat is located in Wellington, New Zealand. (Kuo, supra.)