TAIWAN BOAT CAPTAIN SUED FOR PALAU SHARK FINNING

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By Bernadette H. Carreon

KOROR (Palau Horizon, Oct. 23) — A civil action suit was filed against the captain of the Taiwanese vessel and Kuniyoshi Fishing Company (KFC) reportedly involved with shark finning.

Based on a 38-page civil action no. 07-304, the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) is filing a 138 count civil suit against defendants KFC, Wen Jyi Horng and the vessek F/V Chin Hsiang Chi No. 3.

The verified complaint and libel alleged that the defendants should be held liable for fishing for sharks, shark mutilation; failure to completely and accurately fill put customs and forms; unauthorized commercial merchandise; catch log violations; fishing agreement not on board; failure to maintain Forum Fisheries Agency(FFA); Vessel Monitoring System; and forfeiture.

In the complaint, government prosecutors are asking a civil penalty not exceeding $500,000 for each count from one to 137.

The complaint further said that for count 138, the plaintiff is seeking a complete forfeiture of the vessel F/V Chin Hsiang Chi No. 3 together with the vessel’s fishing gear, furniture, appurtenances, stores, cargo, and fish, including fish that was offloaded on Sept. 29, 2007 or its cash value.

The plaintiff is also seeking costs and attorney’s fees, pre and post judgment interests.

On Sept. 29, officers from the Division of Customs and the Quarantine Office searched the CT3-5383 vessel while it was docked at the KFC facilities in Malakal.

According to the complaint, among other fish and items, the officers recovered a sack of shark fins weighing approximately 12.7 kilograms roughly 28 pounds and these sharks were not logged on any of the fishing log sheets recovered in the Sept. 29 search.It added that from the period on Sept. 11, 2007 through Sept. 29, 2007 , Horng through the use of the vessel illegally fished or sharks in Palau’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Court records showed that this is the second time he was caught with shark fins.

In January 14, 2006, Horng while still in command of another Taiwanese vessel was caught with five sacks of shark fins and six shark carcasses.

The complaint said that the 2006 incident was handled administratively with the issuance of a $10,000 fine under the prior 2001 fishing agreement.

The complaint said it is not known however whether the fine was paid.

KFC was named defendant because the complaint said it has a duty to make sure that foreign fishing vessels licensed under or through its fishing agreement did not fish for sharks or catch sharks in Palau’s EEZ.

During the apprehension the vessel also allegedly possessed mutilated sharks.

The vessel in question also did not have a copy of the Uniform Longlining Agreement on board.

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