Thu, Jul 31, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Fishing deal to end spat with Japan

TERRITORIAL CLAIMS While Japan will no longer harass Taiwanese fishing boats near the Tiaoyutais, a bilateral fishing pact for the area is a long way off

By Monique Chu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The government has reached an agreement with Japan over disputed fishing grounds near the Tiaoyutai Islands but further negotiations will be needed to map out a co-managed fishery zone, officials said yesterday.

"We haven't reached any conclusion on joint cooperation," said Cabinet Spokesman Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) of the ongoing talks with Tokyo regarding the disputed waters.

However, they did agree to shelve their disputes for the time being in the area between latitudes 27?N and 29?N, meaning that the Japanese navy and coastguard will no longer harass Taiwanese fishing boats there.

Fishing disputes between Taipei and Tokyo erupted earlier this year when Japan expelled Taiwanese fishing boats from what Tokyo called its exclusive economic zone in the East China Sea and Yellow Sea with water and paint cannon.

Japan issued a warning on Feb. 1 against foreign fishermen working in those waters, a statement not recognized by Taiwan.

The disputed area is near the Tiaoyutai Islands, 150km northeast of Taiwan in the East China Sea.

The islets are surrounded by rich fishing waters and have been regarded by the government as within the jurisdiction of Ilan County.

The fishing zone, however, lies in an area which Taiwan, Japan and China each claim is within their 200-nautical mile (370km) exclusive economic zones.

The agreement reached so far came after two days of negotiations in Tokyo recently, in which Lin said both sides promised to avoid direct clashes over the fishing grounds.

James Sha (沙志一), deputy director-general of the Fisheries Administration under the Council of Agriculture, said both sides shared a willingness to map out an area where joint management is possible.

"The solution is to work out an area in the disputed zone where both sides can manage the natural resources with the idea of sustainable development in mind," Sha said.

But the two sides have not agreed on the exact scale of the co-management fishing zone, Sha said.

A foreign ministry official said another round of negotiations would be held before the end of the year, although the exact details of the talks have not been agreed.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which took effect in 1994, states that each coastal nation has jurisdiction over resources, research and environmental protection for up to 200 nautical miles from its coast.

Because Taiwan is not a member of the UN, the government unilaterally announced its exclusive economic zone in 1998.

A fishery pact sealed between Japan and China according to the UN convention went into effect in June 2001. The agreement created a temporary co-management fishery zone, which is where Taiwanese vessels have been expelled from several times recently, the officials said.

Also see stories:

PFP critics blame government for troubled waters

Coast Guard increases its protection for fishermen

Editorial: No need to go fishing for trouble

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