Catches of yellowfin tuna in waters off northeastern Taiwan have increased 20 percent this month compared with the same period last year following the signing of a fisheries agreement with Japan, local fishermen said yesterday.
Yellowfin tuna is the main fish caught in waters near the disputed Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台).
Taiwanese fishermen from the Suao (蘇澳) area in Yilan County caught about 19,800 yellowfin tuna near the Diaoyutais and waters off Hualien and Taitung last year, which were worth around NT$240 million (US$8.02 million), officials said at a fish market operated by the Suao Fishermen’s Association.
Despite fishing grounds being expanded under the terms of the agreement, three Taiwanese boats have been detained by Japanese authorities for trespassing since the pact took effect.
Lin Yue-ying (林月英), head of the fishermen’s association, said she hopes authorities from Taiwan and Japan can establish a buffer zone between the two countries’ respective fishing grounds, as fishing boats can drift with the currents and accidentally enter waters belonging to another nation.
The agreement, signed on April 10, gives Taiwanese fishermen an additional 4,530km2 in which they can operate without interference from the Japanese authorities. The expanded area falls in a triangular area between 25o north latitude, 122.8o east longitude and 124.7o east longitude.
Meanwhile in southern Taiwan, the Kaohsiung Fishermen’s Association said that recent regular patrols by Coast Guard Administration vessels in waters south of the nation are allowing Taiwanese boats to operate without harassment from patrol ships from other nations.
Taiwan has intensified its efforts to protect its fishermen following the May 9 fatal shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman by Philippine Coast Guard personnel.