Taipei, Manila arrive at fishing dispute consensus

WATERS UNDER THE BRIDGE::With the formulation of a written consensus on how to deal with future fishing disputes, Taipei hopes to avoid a repeat of the May 9 incident

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 - Page 1

Taipei and Manila have reached a consensus on dealing with fishing disputes in overlapping waters to prevent a repeat of the May 9 incident in which Philippine Coast Guard personnel shot at a Taiwanese boat, killing fisherman Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成), Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂) said last night.

Lin told the press that progress had been made at the first preparatory talks held on Friday in Manila toward possible negotiations on a provisional fisheries agreement covering the waters claimed by the two countries.

In the consensus, which was recorded in writing, both sides agreed that their law enforcement officials would refrain from the use of force or violence against fishermen from the other side, Lin said.

Taipei and Manila agreed to establish a mechanism for both sides to notify each other of incidents involving fishing boats and to determine how their respective authorities would handle such cases, the minister said.

In the event that a fishing boat is detained by the other side, the detaining country must abide by international regulations regarding fisheries disputes and release the boat and fishermen as soon as possible, Lin said.

Taiwan froze the hiring of Filipino workers on May 15, as part of a set of 10 sanctions it imposed against the Philippines in response to what Taipei said was Manila’s failure to meet Taipei’s four-demand ultimatum over the May 9 shooting.

The ultimatum sought a formal apology from the Philippine government for Hung’s death, compensation for his family, the launch of an investigation into the incident and the initiation of negotiations on a fisheries agreement.

Lin said that both sides are to meet for a second time in Taipei next month to discuss issues related to a provisional arrangement on fishing rights in the area.

“Our most important goals in the negotiations are to ensure the safety of our fishermen operating in overlapping waters and to prevent incidents like the one on May 9,” Lin said.

The Taiwanese delegation at the meeting was led by Fisheries Agency Deputy Director-General Tsay Tzu-yaw (蔡日耀).

Lin said he expected Manila would release its report on the incident soon because Philippine President Benigno Aquino III had already received the results of the investigation conducted by the Philippine National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

Philippine Department of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Thursday confirmed a recommendation by the NBI to press charges against some members of the Philippine Coast Guard involved in the incident.