Wed, Jun 03, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Coast guard patrol vessel moves to protect fishing boat

FLASH POINT:The 2013 shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman damaged ties with the Philippines and the nations are working on a maritime agreement

Staff writer, with Reuters

Coast guard ships from Taiwan and the Philippines confronted each other in rich fishing waters south of the nation last week, officials from the two sides said.

The incident comes as they are working on a pact to resolve maritime disputes.

In 2013, Taiwan recalled its envoy to the Philippines, froze work permit applications for Filipinos and ordered military exercises in waters between the two nations to press for an apology for the shooting death of a Taiwanese fisherman in waters where the nations’ exclusive economic zones overlap.

Last week, a patrol vessel moved in “at full speed” to protect a Taiwanese fishing boat and escort it back to safe waters after it had been challenged by a Philippine coast guard vessel, the Coast Guard Administration said in a statement.

A Philippine Navy official confirmed the incident and said the Philippine coast guard vessel stopped chasing the fishing boat when the agency’s vessel approached.

The two nations have worked to mend relations strained by the 2013 killing.

They are trying to work out a pact that will formalize how to resolve fishing disputes, including a commitment not to use force, and procedures to govern the detention and release of fishing vessels and their personnel.

Taiwanese navy officials were not available for comment.

Taiwan tends to use its coast guard to protect its maritime interests and the navy maintains a low profile, particularly where sovereignty is disputed.

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