The government is hoping to hold fisheries talks with the Philippines late this month in an effort to address fishing disputes in their overlapping waters, an official said yesterday.
The government is also planning to assign a higher-level official to head its negotiating team and is seeking to follow the model of its recent fisheries pact with Japan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs Director-General Benjamin Ho (何登煌) said.
Relations between Taiwan and the Philippines had been strained since May 9, when Philippine Coast Guard personnel attacked a Taiwanese fishing boat in the overlapping exclusive economic zones of the two countries, resulting in the death of a 65-year-old Taiwanese fisherman, Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成).
Ho’s remarks followed the easing of bilateral relations after the government on Aug. 8 lifted a series of sanctions that had been imposed against the Philippines over its handling of the shooting.
Taiwan and the Philippines have agreed to hold their next fisheries meeting in Taipei soon, Ho said.
Both sides held a preparatory meeting on June 14, during which they reached an initial consensus on several issues, including no use of force or violence during patrols of the overlapping economic zones in fishing grounds and the establishment of a mechanism to inform each other in the event of fisheries incidents.
Ho said the government hopes to strengthen the legal effects of the bilateral consensus by signing a joint statement or communique during the next round of talks.
He said Fisheries Agency Director-General James Sha (沙志一) may be appointed to lead the talks with the Philippines’ Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Director Asis Perez.
If the Japanese model is followed, Taiwan’s agreement with the Philippines will designate an area in the overlapping exclusive economic zones of the two countries where fishermen from both nations will be allowed to operate freely, Ho said.
In addition, a bilateral fishing commission may be established to deal regularly with follow-up issues, he said.
The June 14 meeting in Manila was held between a Taiwanese delegation led by Fisheries Agency Deputy Director-General Tsay Tzu-yaw (蔡日曜) and Philippine officials led by Perez, the ministry said.