Fri, Jul 25, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Fisheries accord with Manila to be inked soon: official

Staff writer, with CNA

An agreement between Taiwan and the Philippines on law enforcement cooperation on fishery matters in their overlapping economic waters is expected to be inked “soon,” a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said yesterday.

The two sides have reached a consensus on signing the agreement and are in the final stages of concluding it, Elliot Charng (常以立), director-general of the ministry’s Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said at a news briefing.

Only some of the wording remains to be resolved, he said when asked about the pact’s progress.

Taiwanese and Philippine officials had previously estimated that the agreement would be signed by the end of this month, but when asked whether this was still the case, Charng refused to be drawn, saying only that it would be finalized “very soon.”

Since last year, Taipei and Manila have been discussing an agreement on maritime law enforcement cooperation, after a Taiwanese fisherman was shot dead on May 9 last year by Philippine Coast Guard officers in waters overlapping the exclusive economic zones of the two countries.

The shooting and Manila’s handling of the incident caused bilateral relations to plunge to their worst in years, with Taiwan imposing a freeze on hiring Filipino workers, among other sanctions.

Bilateral relations returned to normal in August last year, after the Philippines met four Taiwanese demands that included a formal apology and the start of talks on fishery cooperation.

During a subsequent series of fishery meetings, the two sides reached consensus on several issues. These include a ban on the use of force or violence when patrolling fishing grounds, the establishment of a mechanism to inform each other in the event of fishery incidents and the release of detained fishermen and boats as soon as possible.

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