The government and the Philippines have agreed to set up a technical working group to deal with fishery issues, including designating an area in their overlapping exclusive economic zones where fishermen from both countries can operate freely, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Tuesday.
The two sides agreed to set up the working group during their first formal fishery talks that began on Monday in Taipei, ministry officials said.
The working group will also deal with fishery cooperation, although details on how the group will operate have yet to be decided, they said.
During the two days of talks, both sides touched on issues of fishing boundaries in their overlapping exclusive economic zones, but failed to reach a consensus, the officials said. This issue will be discussed during the working group meetings, they said.
The two sides also established mechanisms to inform each other of any fishery-related incidents in their overlapping zones, including a hotline and a mechanism they can use to inform each other of incidents such as maritime chases, boardings and inspections of fishing boats, or the arrest and detention of fishermen, the ministry said.
Implementing a consensus reached in a June 14 preparatory meeting, they also set up another system for the prompt release of detained fishing vessels and their crews, the ministry said.
The June meeting came after Philippine Coast Guard personnel opened fire on a Taiwanese fishing boat on May 9 in the two countries’ overlapping economic waters, killing a 65-year-old Taiwanese fisherman.
Philippine authorities have been amending their laws to implement measures on avoiding the use of force or violence during fishery patrols, if there is no threat to the lives of maritime enforcement officers, the ministry said.
The two sides did not issue a joint statement on this week’s talks, but signed the minutes of the talks.
“We’re building the blocks,” an official said. “We don’t rule out the possibility of signing an agreement in the future.”
Taiwan’s delegation was headed by Representative to the Philippines Raymond Wang, while the Philippine group was led by Manila Economic and Cultural Office Chairman Amadeo Perez Jr.