Nation secretly attended global oceans forum

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Nation secretly attended global oceans forum

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1 Nation secretly attended global oceans forum on Sun Dec 24, 2017 11:09 am

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Despite Beijing’s efforts to block Taiwan’s international presence, government representatives in October for the first time managed to attend an annual international oceanic meeting in Europe, an official said.

Council of Agriculture Deputy Minister Huang Chin-cheng (黃金城) and Fisheries Agency Deputy Director-General Huang Hung-yan (黃鴻燕) were among the attendees at this year’s Our Ocean conference hosted by the EU on Oct. 5 and 6 in Malta, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, as he was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

The conference, now in its fourth year, brings together high-level participants from more than 100 nations every year to tackle challenges facing the world’s oceans.

The first meeting was organized by the US, which was also responsible for last year’s conference, while the 2015 meeting was held by Chile. The next two conferences are to be hosted by Indonesia and Norway.

To minimize Chinese reactions, the official said that the two officials were invited in their respective capacities as chairman and member of the board of standing directors of the Overseas Fisheries Development Council, which appears to be a non-governmental organization, but has leaders who are government-appointed.

“This is the first time Taiwanese government officials have participated in the international oceanic meeting,” the official said, adding that they also made concrete commitments that were officially recorded.

Taiwan contributed two of the 437 commitments made by the participants.

The first is a pledge to enact new fisheries legislation to improve management of the nation’s distant-water fishing fleets and to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities, while allocating 64.76 million euros (US$76.8 million) to support a five-year program aimed at implementing enhanced measures.

The second commitment is the allocation of 14.2 million euros to a four-year research program to study the feasibility of artificial reefs as suitable marine habitats, as well as the removal of abandoned fishing gear and marine debris around Penghu.

The official said the key to their success was to keep a low profile and avoid unnecessary attention, as well as to find the right organization as a front, which caught China off-guard.

“The important thing is not to go around telling everyone that Taiwan is going to participate, but to actually make things happen and see our representatives sit in the conference room,” he said.

He also expressed optimism that after this year’s experience, Taiwan could also attend the next two conferences.

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