Kaohsiung, Taiwan, December 14, 2021 – To improve the working condition of the fishers, Taiwan Fisheries Agency invited all stakeholders for discussion. This meeting was held on December 14, 2021, in Kaohsiung. Distant Water Fishery Associations, NGOs, and Human Right Groups were invited to this forum. The discussion focused on two main issues: to secure the full payment of salary and promoting the on-board WIFI installation for fishers’ benefit.
In previous meetings with Taiwan Fisheries Agency, there was a strong suggestion to have a direct transfer of salary to the bank account of the fishers. This is to lessen the risk of unexplained salary deductions, exchange rate issues and to provide necessary proofs in terms of salary disputes. One of the objections was whether opening a bank account is easy or not. For this reason, Taiwan Fisheries Agency invited as special guests for the meeting the Indonesian Economic and Trade Office (IETO) and Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI) – Indonesian people’s Bank. The representative of BRI explained that it is not difficult to open a bank account for fishers as long as they have an Indonesian Identity Card (KTP). BRI has just established a branch in Taipei, and they have a special collaboration with INDEX in all of Taiwan, in case the fishers want to avail services of BRI.
As for the use of WIFI on-board for fishers, the General Director of the Taiwan Fisheries Agency invited the participants to have an open discussion on the matter since it has become one of the needs of the fishers. For this issue, the Distant Water Fishery Association expressed their perplexity if it would affect the work onboard. On the other hand, the NGOs and human rights groups underlined the importance of WIFI for fishers to be connected with their families and the outside world. Father Yance, the Director of Stella Maris Scalabrinian Network in Kaohsiung, shared to the group how important the WIFI is, especially during this pandemic for fishers to connect with Stella Maris when they need to ask for prayers and personal sharing. It is also a tool for Stella Maris to inform the fishers about various policies of the Taiwan government during the Pandemic. He further explained that WIFI on board is not just a means of making complaints and grievances, but it is a tool to help fishers in keeping their mental wellness. The forum needs to find proper modalities for this issue to be implemented.
Before the end of the discussion, Fr. Yance was asked to pray for the fishers and all those stakeholders in this industry. He asked the Lord to protect all the fishers in far distant seas who leave their homes to assure food stability in the world. Stella Maris appreciates the steps taken by the Taiwan Fisheries Agency in its effort to improve the living condition of the fishers on board by inviting all the stakeholders to come together for discussion. We hope that such an effort will ensure the better treatment of our fishers in far-distant seas.
Photo credits: 漁業廣播電臺