Sustain or phase out: Transformation of Taiwan’s management scheme on distant water tuna longline fisheries
Fishing nations worldwide have introduced various measures to manage their fisheries. However, many have failed including Taiwan. Taiwan operated one of the world’s largest and most productive distant water tuna longline fleets but overcapacity and an incommensurate fisheries management scheme (FMS) resulted in illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities by the fleet. As a result, Taiwan received serious punitive sanction by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) in 2005 for illegal “fish laundering” activities. Ten years later, it also received a “yellow card” warning from the European Union (EU) under the EU IUU Regulation. Taiwan struggled to transform its FMS to meet the requirements imposed under the two events through three FMS transformation projects. The ICCAT sanction was lifted in 2006, the EU yellow card was lifted in mid-2019, and the resulting FMS is considered close to completion and a useful example of global best practice. This study reviews the failure of Taiwan’s FMS for tuna longline fisheries and identifies the potential drivers: low policy priority, weak institutional arrangements, and insufficient enforcement resources. It documents the evolution of the FMS which was painful but could offer valuable lessons for fisheries managers and scholars worldwide. Key effects of the transformation projects and some recommendations for the future are also provided.