Wed, Mar 07, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Incident will not scupper next round of fishing talks

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

The seventh meeting of a Taiwan-Japan fishing commission will take place as planned, despite Tokyo’s inappropriate chasing of a Taiwanese fishing boat over the weekend, the Taiwan-Japan Relations Association said yesterday.

Speaking at a news conference in Taipei, association Secretary-General Chang Shu-ling (張淑玲) said the incident would not impede the commission’s annual meeting, which is expected to take place in Taipei.

“We do not think the case would impact the upcoming meeting. Both sides will continue to try to peacefully settle our disputes and protect our fishermen’s rights through sincere negotiations,” Chang said.

Asked whether the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ strong protest over the incident was an attempt to open negotiations on sea areas yet to be covered by the 2013 Taiwan-Japan Fisheries Agreement, Chang did not respond directly, saying only that the date and agenda for the meeting were still being planned.

Controversial issues should be on the negotiating table, including whether the Tung Pan Chiu No. 28 (東半球) crossed the line as Tokyo claimed, Chang said, adding that the government has aked Japanese authorities to present evidence to support their allegations.

The Tung Pan Chiu No. 28 was chased by Japanese patrol boats on Saturday and then again on Sunday, when it was water-cannoned in waters near the disputed Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台).

The ministry criticized that action as a “disproportionate reinforcement of the law” when it lodged a protest with Japan on Monday.

However, the ministry yesterday narrowed the scope of its protest to cover Sunday’s event only, following the Fisheries Agency’s discovery that the vessel on Saturday was about 10 nautical miles (18.5km) outside the fishing zone specified by the 2013 agreement.

In addition, since it is licensed as a longline fishing vessel, the ship violated the law on Saturday when it entered the zone without prior authorization, the agency said.

The agreement covers the maritime zone south of 27° north latitude and north of Japan’s Yaeyama and Miyako islands, where Taiwan and Japan’s exclusive economic zones overlap.

The agency also found that the Tung Pan Chiu No. 28 had set sail on Sunday as a recreational fishing vessel and therefore was covered by the Regulations for Recreational Fishery (娛樂漁業管理辦法), which restrict such vessels to areas within 30 nautical miles of the coastline of Taiwan proper.

The boat was 37 nautical miles from the coast, the agency said.

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