A Taiwanese fishing boat was detained by a patrol ship from the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in waters south of Japan’s Sakishima Islands in Okinawa Prefecture in waters in which the exclusive economic zones of Taiwan and Japan overlap, government officials confirmed yesterday.
The incident was the first dispute between Taiwan and Japan since a new fisheries agreement came into effect on Friday last week.
The Japanese ministry said in a statement that the Cheng Chang Fa No. 2 was operating in waters surrounding Taketomi Island in Japan’s exclusive economic zone yesterday morning.
According to a report by Japan’s Central News Agency in Tokyo, the skipper of the Kaohsiung-based boat, Sun Chu-min (孫居民), admitted that the ship was operating in waters where fishing by Taiwanese vessels was not permitted.
Sun was released after paying a ￥4 million fine (US$39,430).
A Ministry of Foreign Affairs official, who asked to be kept anonymous, said that the incident took place within Taiwan’s exclusive economic zone, but beyond the temporary enforcement line which was established unilaterally by Taiwan in 2003 to serve as an identification line to guarantee the safety of fishermen in the disputed waters.
Under the new fisheries agreement, Taiwanese fishing vessels can operate in a 74,000km2 area surrounding the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) — known in Japan as the Senkaku Islands. However, 4,530km2 of this area are beyond the temporary enforcement line.
The incident did not occur in the delineated zone covered under the fisheries accord.
Fisheries Agency Director-General James Sha (沙志一) yesterday urged Taiwanese fishermen to operate in areas designated under the agreement to prevent detainment by Japanese law enforcement.
Since the fisheries agreement came into effect, Japanese maritime law enforcement authorities have doubled the number patrol vessels in the area to crack down on illegal fishing, Sha said.
The Coast Guard Administration yesterday said the seizure of the Cheng Chang Fa No. 2 took place 46 nautical miles (85km) southeast of Ishigaki Island, 16 nautical miles beyond the temporary enforcement line.