Mon, Jun 17, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan, Philippines to have another fishing meeting next month: official

Staff writer, with CNA

Taiwan and the Philippines are expected to hold another meeting early next month to continue negotiating on fishing operations in the overlapping waters of their exclusive economic zones, an official said yesterday.

The second preparatory meeting — to pave the way for fishery talks between the two countries — is set to take place in Taipei, said Benjamin Ho (何登煌), director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

Issues on the agenda are to include establishing regulations on fishing order and defining the areas in which fishermen can operate, Ho said, adding that the meeting would be attended by officials from the two countries’ fishery, foreign affairs and maritime patrol agencies.

“Our goal is to sign a fishery agreement with the Philippines,’ he said. “We will continue to negotiate with the Philippines [on that issue].”

Ho also cited as an example the Taiwan-Japan fishing pact signed in April on fishing rights in disputed waters in the East China Sea. The agreement designates an area in overlapping waters in which fishermen from both sides can operate freely.

A fishery agreement will help prevent a recurrence of the shooting of 65-year-old Taiwanese fisherman Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成) by Philippine Coast Guard personnel on May 9, when his Taiwanese fishing boat was operating in the overlapping exclusive economic zones of the two countries, the ministry said.

Asked about the investigations into the shooting, Ho said that Taiwan and the Philippines have completed their own reports on the incident.

Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂) said the reports are expected to be released “soon.”

In an effort to pave the way for bilateral fishery talks, officials from Taiwan and the Philippines held their first preparatory meeting on Friday in Manila, during which the two sides reached consensus on four points, including no use of force or violence in policing their fishing grounds.

Both sides also signed the minutes of Friday’s meeting, which the ministry said makes it an official document that is legally binding. Participants in the meeting agreed to jointly work out a mechanism for cooperating on law enforcement in overlapping waters of the two countries’ exclusive economic zones, the ministry said.

According to the minutes, the proposed mechanism will enable each side to notify the other in the event of fishery incidents and ensure that there is no use of force and violence.

The mechanism will also facilitate notification about incidents involving chases, boarding and inspections of each other’s fishing boats or the arrest and detention of each other’s fishermen.

In the wake of the May 9 incident, Taiwan demanded that the Philippines issue a formal apology, compensate Hung’s family, punish those responsible for his death and begin fishery talks to prevent any similar incidents.

Friday’s meeting was the first consultation on cooperation since the shooting and could be seen as a goodwill response from Manila on Taiwan’s demand for fishery talks.

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