USCG's Pacific High Seas Patrol Nets Fines for Taiwanese Fishermen

Members of Bertholf's boarding team prepare to go aboard a foreign-flagged fishing vessel on the high seas (USCG)

Published Jul 5, 2022 6:31 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Coast Guard's annual high-seas fishery patrols in the North Pacific paid dividends in 2021 - in cash. The government of Taiwan (officially, Chinese Taipei) has fined five of its flagged fishing vessels a combined $250,000 for infractions that the crew of the cutter USCGC Bertholf discovered in a series of boardings last year. 

During Bertholf's patrol at the end of 2021, her crew boarded 15 fishing vessels, recovered 450 shark fins and identified 32 possible violations of conservation and management measures. (More vessels would have been boarded, but some refused - a violation in itself.) The boardings were conducted under the authority of the multilateral Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) and North Pacific Fisheries Commission (NPFC). The evidence of suspected violations was passed over to the appropriate flag state agencies, including the Fisheries Agency of Taiwan. 

The Fisheries Agency recently announced penalties against five Taiwanese fishing vessels in connection with the Bertholf's inspection efforts. A massive fine of about $200,000 was imposed on the operator of one fishing vessel, and the operator’s license was suspended for one month. The agency imposed a fine of about $40,600 on the captain of that vessel, revoked their fishing vessel crew identification, and suspended their certificate of fishing vessel officer for one month. The vessel has also been listed as a high-risk fishing vessel and is subject to special management measures.

The agency also imposed fines of approximately $1,693 against the vessel operators and $338 against the captains of three other fishing vessels, who were fined for illegal retention of salmon. The agency fined a fifth vessel for improper vessel identification markings.

“The success of Bertholf’s patrol highlights the value of our ongoing international partnerships in protecting food and economic security of coastal states across the globe,” said Vice Adm. Michael F. McAllister, Coast Guard Pacific Area commander. “The penalties imposed by the Fisheries Agency of Taiwan exemplify the collaborative approach and role of law enforcement in protecting the global food chain.”