Chief Fisheries Officer: Taiwanese don’t fish here!
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June 22, 2010
Chief Fisheries Officer: Taiwanese don’t fish here!

Chief Fisheries Officer Raymond Ryan has rubbished the notion that Taiwanese are allowed to fish in the waters of St.Vincent and the Grenadines exclusive economic zone.

In an exclusive interview with SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday, June 9, 2010, Ryan called this notion a myth.{{more}}

“The Taiwanese don’t fish in our waters,” said Ryan, as he flatly denied the claim.

“First let me say that as far as the Fisheries Division is concerned, I know there is no agreement for foreign fishing vessels to fish in Vincentian waters. The myth where the Fisheries Division has licensed Taiwanese vessels to fish in Vincentian waters is really not so,” he stated.

Ryan said this is evidenced by the fact that vessels that hold a High Seas Fishing license from St.Vincent and the Grenadines are mandated to carry a Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) onboard whenever they are fishing. The VMS device is monitored by the Fisheries Division on a daily basis, he disclosed.

“As a matter of fact we take their positions at least five times a day so that we are able to determine where exactly these vessels are fishing that are licensed with us,” explained Ryan. He noted that there are approximately 31 vessels registered with St.Vincent and the Grenadines under the High Seas Fishing arrangement. Some of these are Taiwanese vessels owned.

Delving into the control that the fisheries have over the fishing fleet that is registered to St.Vincent and the Grenadines, Ryan explained that foreign vessels carrying a High Seas Fishing license are not allowed to fish in Vincentian waters.

“If they are locally owned, of course they have a local registration where a different set of regulations would be applied,” said Ryan.

Vessels carrying a High Seas Fishing license fish in international waters, Ryan further explained.

“They are done on the high seas. As a matter of fact, most of them are not even within the Caribbean Sea: they are actually done in the Atlantic Ocean.

“In terms of the fishing grounds and the amount of fish that would be caught in the fishing grounds of the Atlantic, there are certain places in the Atlantic outside the exclusive economic zone where fishers would rather go because the yields are much higher than within the waters of St.Vincent and the Grenadines or within the waters of our Caribbean,” Ryan explained.

He outlined that other vessels that are registered under the St.Vincent and the Grenadines flag outside of the High Seas Fishing license category are not allowed to fish in the waters of other countries, even international waters.

“If they fish in international waters, they will have to get a license from us because if they are spotted they can be blacklisted, they can be charged a fine,” said Ryan. The fine can range from $200,000 to approximately $1,000,000. Additionally, such vessels face the penalty of being blacklisted by the international community.

“Which means that vessels will not be able to trade. The company will basically be off the radar,” said Ryan.

“So I call it a myth where persons are trying to spread propaganda and are putting inaccuracies in the media without even understanding the full picture of what really happens with the high seas fishing fleets and the arrangement,” said Ryan.

The Fisheries Division, said the Chief Fisheries Officer, is aware that there is some poaching by neighbouring states from time to time. However, this is being controlled by the surveillance carried out, he stated, adding that arrests have been made on Grenadian and Martiniquan fishermen.

“As for the Taiwanese, these persons are not within the economic zone,” Ryan confirmed.

Ryan concluded the interview by explaining that vessels would steam from the Atlantic Ocean to their home base. Every ship has a right of innocent passage, he declared.

“That is customary practice for any vessel,” he noted.

“So if they see a Taiwanese ship passing they might say, somebody might say, ‘Oh I see a Taiwanese ship and it fishing,’ but it is not allowed to fish. It cannot stop in anybody’s waters for any length of time to even drop a palang and they are fishing with long line,” said Ryan. He added to deploy a long line takes hours.

“So once they stop and we check their position, we know that they have been fishing and we have not had that problem,” Ryan confirmed.

He added: “People must not try to misguide persons relating to the truth and facts for political gains. It is not good for us as Vincentian people. For me as a Vincentian, I feel very offended and insulted when persons do things like that. Mislead and misguide for their own political gains.”