Wed, Oct 23, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Philippine fishery talks move to formal level

Staff writer, with CNA

Taiwan and the Philippines are currently holding their first formal fishery talks in decades, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.

The goal of the talks, which began on Monday in Taipei, is to discuss the implementation of proposals made at a previous meeting in June on maintaining order in the waters where the two countries’ exclusive economic zones overlap, ministry spokesperson Anna Kao (高安) confirmed.

“We also hope to further implement a consensus reached during the preparatory meeting and establish institutionalized negotiations,” she said.

Despite being pressed by the media, Kao declined to provide further details on the talks’ agenda, the officials who are heading the discussions and whether a joint statement will be issued after the talks.

“The talks are ongoing,” she said. “We’ll reveal related details after the talks are completed.”

The June 14 meeting, which was billed as a “preparatory” talk, came in response to an incident on May 9 in which a Philippine Coast Guard personnel opened fire on a Taiwanese fishing boat in the two countries’ overlapping maritime territories.

The incident left 65-year-old Taiwanese fisherman Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成) dead and triggered a diplomatic standoff that lasted until early August.

One of Taiwan’s conditions for ending the stalemate was to open talks on ensuring a safe environment in which fishermen from both sides can operate.

During the June 14 meeting, the two sides reached an initial consensus that there should be no use of force or violence during patrols of fishing grounds and that a mechanism should be established to inform each other of any fishery-related incidents.

The mechanism will expedite the notification of incidents such as maritime chases, the boarding and inspection of fishing boats by either side, and the arrest and detention of fishermen, the ministry said.

After the June talks, the two countries had agreed to hold a second meeting on Sept. 16, but the follow-up talks were delayed because of fighting between Muslim rebels and Philippine government forces in the southern Philippines, according to the ministry.

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