The first meeting of a fishing commission set up by Taiwan and Japan will be held later this month to discuss follow-up issues after the sides signed a historic deal on fishing rights, Fisheries Agency Director-General James Sha (沙志一) said.
After 17 years of efforts, the two nations signed an agreement on Wednesday on fishing rights in overlapping territories in the East China Sea.
The two sides also agreed to set up the bilateral fishing commission comprised of two members from Taiwan and two from Japan, Sha said.
Issues on the agenda may include how to build mutual trust and establish a system to make fishery resources sustainable, as well as how Taiwan and Japan should regulate the operations of their respective fishermen in the waters covered by the agreement, he said.
“Both sides can make suggestions on each other’s fishing boat regulations,” he said, but added that such suggestions would only be made on equal footing.
Under the terms of the agreement, Taiwanese and Japanese boats can operate freely within a 74,300km2 area around the disputed Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) — known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan — the agency said.
The pact provides Taiwanese fishermen an additional 4,530km2 in which to operate without fear of reprisal from the Japanese authorities, it added.
According to the agreement, the bilateral commission will deal with a range of issues related to fishing in the disputed waters, mainly those near the Diaoyutais chain.
The commission is to meet annually and additional meetings can be convened if deemed necessary, the agency added.
The islands, which lie about 120 nautical miles (220km) northeast of Taipei, have been under Japan’s administrative control since 1972, but are claimed by Taiwan and China.
The surrounding waters have long been traditional fishing grounds for Taiwanese fishermen, but they have been routinely chased from the area by Japanese Coast Guard boats when they venture too close to what Japan sees as its territorial waters.