Then there are the practical issues of budget and personnel within the dozen or so agencies currently handling maritime affairs, which raises questions when it comes to the authority of a council of ocean affairs to coordinate maritime affairs involving other ministries, commissions and agencies.
In recent years, the importance of oceans and islands have begun to influence the maritime strategy arrangements of other countries.
To handle these issues more effectively, Taipei must establish an agency, perhaps in the form of a ministry of maritime affairs, dedicated to handling maritime affairs and then reorganize the government agencies over which the handling of these issues is spread to concentrate them in the hands of the new agency.
This is not only the most pressing issue at hand, it is also the only viable option.
As part of his election campaigns, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) talked about “a blue revolution and oceans revitalizing the nation” and advocated that the handling of maritime affairs be unified and placed under a single ministry.
Only by establishing such a ministry and concentrating maritime affairs under it can Taiwan protect its maritime rights and interests.
Kao Shih-ming is an assistant research fellow at the Institute of Marine Resources Management at National Taiwan Ocean University.
Translated by Perry Svensson