Tue, Jan 21, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Third round of meetings on fishing with Japan opens

Staff writer, with CNA

Taiwan and Japan will hold a third meeting of their joint fishery commission this week to address regulations on fishing in overlapping waters in the East China Sea, the agencies responsible for handling bilateral ties said yesterday.

A preparatory meeting is slated for today, after which a closed-door formal meeting will take place on Thursday, said the Association of East Asian Relations, the group in charge of ties with Japan in the absence of diplomatic relations.

The meeting will aim to smooth over differences in fishing procedures in a designated area of the East China Sea, where Taiwanese and Japanese fishermen are allowed to operate freely, according to Lo Koon-tsan (羅坤燦), secretary-general of the association.

The meeting will be held at GIS NTU Convention Center at National Taiwan University (NTU) and could run into Friday if necessary, Japan’s Interchange Association said.

Officials from both countries’ foreign ministries, fishery agencies and maritime law enforcement are set to attend.

The first meeting of the fishing commission took place in May last year in Taipei, while the second was held on Dec. 26 last year in Tokyo.

At the second meeting, the countries remained divided on fishing operations in their overlapping waters in the East China Sea, but agreed to continue negotiating on the issue, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Tokyo talks came after fishermen’s associations from Taiwan and Japan met in Yilan County for talks earlier in the month about the differences in their fishing methods.

Sticking points of that meeting included the direction in which fishing lines are deployed and the distance maintained between longline fishing boats when they are operating in the overlapping exclusive economic zones.

Japanese fishermen advocated their operating method, which requires fishing boats to set their lines in a north-south direction and maintain a distance of 4 nautical miles (7.4km) between each boat.

However, Taiwanese fishermen, who are more numerous in the area, said they would stick to their traditional approach of deploying lines in an east-west direction and maintaining a distance of 1 nautical mile between boats.

The Taiwan-Japan fishing commission was established as part of an agreement signed on April 10 last year by the two countries on fishing rights in the East China Sea near the disputed Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan.

Under the terms of the April agreement, Taiwanese and Japanese boats can operate freely in a 74,300km2 area around the uninhabited islets, the Fisheries Agency said.

The Diaoyutais have been under Japan’s administrative control since 1972, but are also claimed by Taiwan and China, which calls them the Diaoyu Archipelago (釣魚群島).

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