Thu, Jun 23, 2005 - Page 1 News List

GPS could solve fishing disputes: Hsieh

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

PHOTO: CHU PEI-HSIUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) yesterday suggested that fishermen install global positioning systems (GPS) on their boats to avoid future disputes over intrusions into foreign territory.

"If the GPS shows that our fishing boats have not trespassed into another country's economic waters, the government would definitely protect our fishing boats' legal right to fish," the premier said at the weekly Cabinet meeting yesterday morning.

Hsieh said it is natural for the government to protect its people, but it can only do this effectively under the law.

"Whenever a dispute like this takes place, our fishermen always say that they did not intrude into another country's economic waters, but the countries always claim that our fishermen did," Hsieh said. "If we have evidence, it will be easier for us to decide who is right and who is wrong."

The premier said that South Korean fishermen have used of GPS in disputes with foreign countries, allowing the disagreements to be easily solved.

In the meantime, the premier also said that the Fishery Council will provide reimbursements to those fishermen who may need aid to install GPS on their boats.

However, when asked for more details, Cabinet Spokesman Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰), speaking on behalf of Hsieh, said that none were available.

Cho made the remarks during a regular press conference after the Cabinet meeting yesterday.

In the wake of the premier's suggestion, some have expressed concerns over a potential invasion of fishermen's privacy with the use of GPS.

Meanwhile, the 15th round of Taiwan-Japan fishery talks has been tentatively scheduled for July 29 in Tokyo, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official said on Tuesday.

The date and venue were proposed by Japanese authorities, the official said, adding that Japan has also proposed that a preparatory meeting be held in mid-July.

According to the official, details regarding the preparatory meeting and the formal round of talks are still in the works.

"We'll make a formal announcement once all technical details are fleshed out," he added.

As to the level of the Japanese chief negotiator for the upcoming talks, the official said the ministry is still negotiating with Japanese authorities on this matter. The highest-ranking Taiwan official in previous talks was chief secretary of the Fishery Administration under the Council of Agriculture, while the Japanese delegate was an official from the fishery agency.

For the upcoming round of talks, the official said, the Fishery Administration will continue to play the leading role, with MOFA acting as a conduit to help set the stage for negotiators from the two sides.

The official said MOFA has adopted a "two-track" formula for consultations with Japan in arranging the fishery talks.

The official further said MOFA has informed the Cabinet and national security units of the latest progress in preparing for the talks.

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