This paper provides an analytical review of the development of distant water fisheries and the implementation of vessel monitoring systems (VMS) in Taiwan. Taiwanese distant water fisheries have gone through several stages in development: rebirth from the damage of World War II up until the early 1970s, stagnation during the mid-1970s to early 1980s, unbridled growth in the late 1980s to a peak in the 1990s-early 2000s, and a stage of disruption and transformation since the mid-2000s. There were two major fisheries in this stage: tuna and squid, both of which rank between the world's first and third largest. Development was mainly driven by national promotion programs and vessel-building restricting policies; and international influences such as oil crises, declaration of exclusive economic zones, and legal arrangements that stimulated strengthening of international management measures. Growth in Taiwan's over-developed fisheries has outpaced the incommensurately scaled Taiwanese fisheries management sector that has not expanded in parallel with the fisheries. Monitoring of vessel activities remains a major management issue. VMS, which can provide both national and international bodies with an essential monitoring capability for ensuring resource management, was found to be one of the important solutions to this issue. The system, however, was initially unacceptable to the fishers, and the government has transformed external pressures arising from international arrangements and management measures into a force for promoting installation of VMS on Taiwanese fishing vessels. This has occurred in stages: a trial period during 1989-1992; initial development during 1994-1996; expansion during 1996-2004; and a more mature stage of enhanced implementation from 2005 to the present.