Tue, Apr 23, 2013 - Page 3 News List

ANALYSIS: Academics have mixed outlooks on fishery accord

IMPLICATIONS:There are conflicting viewpoints on whether the pact compromises Taiwan’s claim to sovereignty over the Diaoyutai Islands and if it sets a preceden

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

However, the accord does not apply to waters within 12 nautical miles of the Diaoyutais because both sides remain insistent on their sovereign claims to the territorial seas and prohibit entry by vessels from the other side.

The two sides will have to exercise self-restraint to stay out of waters within 12 nautical miles of the islands for the accord to be properly implemented, Song said.

“There has to be a sense of the understanding in both sides that the fishery accord came only after the sovereignty issue was shelved,” Song said.

Hu was more pessimistic about the competing claims, saying that “the situation could become more severe” as the row festers.

The Coast Guard Administration has vowed to take measures proportionate to actions taken by its Japanese counterpart in the event of an intrusion in the area by Taiwanese fishing vessels and vice versa, Hu said.

“This suggests that conflicts in the region could erupt at any time even with the fisheries accord in place,” Hu said.

In another scenario, if Taiwanese fishing vessels avoid entering the area, voluntarily or not, that could mean that Taiwan “indirectly acknowledged Japan’s claim of sovereignty over and administrative control of the Diaoyutais,” Hu said.

“If that’s the case, it would lead to the comment I rather not say — that fishing rights were earned by compromising sovereignty,” Hu said.

He was concerned that the pact could create a disincentive for the government to press other issues with Japan related to sovereignty over the Diaoyutais and the delineation of other waters in the overlapping EEZs if the government “gets all too complacent” with the accord.

The EEZ claimed by Taiwan stretches to 29o north latitude at its northern-most point, overlapping EEZs claimed by Japan and China.

“I am worried that Japan has reduced our preparedness and reduced our awareness in keeping the claims over the Diaoyutais and jurisdiction on maritime interests. For Japan, [the accord] was like a pain in the butt being cured. It gives Taiwan very little in exchange for everything,” Hu said.

Song said he did not see the need to worry that the accord would affect Taiwan’s sovereignty and rights in its EEZ.

“States making provisional arrangements for delimitation of overlapping areas are ensured by the UNCLOS that such formulas have no effect on their territorial claims or any potential boundary delineation in the future,” Song said.

The accord has “confirmed” that the scope defined by Taiwan as its EEZ defined waters within 200 nautical miles of the Diaoyutais, he added.

The islands were placed by Taiwan as the most northerly base point of the zone when the nation announced the first batch of base points and baselines for EEZ demarcation in 1999, following the 1998 Act on the Exclusive Economic Zone and the Continental Shelf of the Republic of China (中華民國專屬經濟海域及大陸礁層法), Song said.

Taiwan has not yet formally drawn up its EEZ, though the principle of a 200 nautical mile limit has been established under the act.

Taiwan established the provisional enforcement lines, according to its claimed EEZ, with regular coastguard patrols in the area regularly to protect Taiwanese fishermen, but the EEZ demarcation has not been recognized by Japan.

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