The inconvenient truth of Taiwan's Flags of Convenience

Publication - 2010-09-29
Taiwan is at the centre of the crises facing our oceans. It has fishing boats in every ocean of the world and it has become one of the most powerful fishing industries. Taiwan has made huge profits off the world’s fish resources, and continues to build bigger and more efficient vessels, catching and selling fish in every corner of the earth. This report examines recent attempts by the Taiwanese government to regulate its powerful fishing industry and various legislative attempts with the hope to better control Taiwanese-flagged and foreign-flagged Taiwanese-owned vessels. The second category is commonly referred to as flag of convenience (FOC) vessels. It also outlines crucial policy recommendations for the long term sustainable management of the Western and Central Pacific tuna fisheries, Taiwan’s largest fishing ground.

Report cover


Key Findings:

1. The current Taiwan fisheries legislation is not ambitious enough and cannot be implemented well enough to effectively regulate the expanded Taiwanese fishing industry. There have been some legislative moves for Taiwan to better control its fishing industry, however the government has failed to present even an accurate figure on how many FOC vessels are owned or operated by Taiwan nationals. There are as many as 384 Taiwanese FOC vessels identified in this report, of which 343 have conclusive operational and ownership links to Taiwan but only 108 are registered with the government as required by legislation introduced in 2008. Without basic data on how many fishing boats are operating, the government can not track illegal activities, let alone stop them.

2. To date Taiwan has failed to implement its 6 Year Plan and the Ordinance sufficiently. Many vessels engaged in IUU fishing under Taiwan flag or under FOCs continue to evade further inspections and prosecution.

3. By immediately enacting its own legislation the Taiwan Fisheries Agency (FA) could fine its fishing industry over to NTD 400 million1 where operators have failed to register their operations under the Ordinance. Specific examples are exposed by Greenpeace research, using public data, in this report.

Download the report


The latest official version of the ICAAT, WCFP, Seaweb and IOTC vessels are available below.  Please download them from here to make sure the contents are accurate and up to date.

ICCAT vessels (Excel spreadsheet)

IATTC vessels  (Excel spreadsheet)

IOTC vessels (Excel spreadsheet)

WCFP and seaweb vessels (Excel spreadsheet)

Taiwan FOC report 2010