Sat, Mar 24, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Agency urges Manila to exercise restraint in EEZ

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

The Fisheries Agency yesterday called on the Philippines not to use unnecessary force to regulate fishing activities in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) where it overlaps Taiwan’s, following a report on Thursday that Manila plans to build a marine base near Orchid Island (Lanyu, 蘭嶼).

The Philippines is next month to start building a marine base on its northernmost Mavulis Island — called Yami Island by Taiwan — which is about 98km from Orchid Island, Reuters reported, citing Lieutenant-Colonel Isagani Nato, spokesman for the Philippines’ Northern Luzon Command.

A small marine unit is to be stationed on the island, Nato said, adding that the structure would provide shelter to fishermen.

The uninhabited, Mavulis and Orchid island’s are separated by the Bashi Channel, a waterway that often witnesses fishing disputes between Taipei and Manila.

In May 2013, Taiwanese fisherman Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成) was shot to death by the Philippines Coast Guard, causing tensions between the two nations.

“The Philippines’ reinforcement of its facilities on the island will not change the fact that its territorial waters largely overlap those of Taiwan,” the Coast Guard Administration said on Thursday.

Disputes over fishing in overlapping territorial waters should be negotiated through foreign affairs and fisheries agencies, the administration said, adding that it would adjust its deployment of patrol vessels if necessary.

The construction of the marine base might “increase the risk of Taiwanese fishing activities,” but the Fisheries Agency would actively cooperate with foreign affairs agencies to discuss cooperation regarding fishing activities, the agency said yesterday.

On Nov. 5, 2015, Taiwan and the Philippines signed an agreement on fishing law enforcement, agreeing not to resort to violence or unnecessary force when enforcing laws, the agency said, adding that law enforcement in the zone is still a contentious issue that needs further negotiation.

Under the agency’s advice, most Taiwanese fishermen have avoided entering the overlapping exclusive economic zone — 12 nautical miles and 24 nautical miles (22km and 44km) from their territorial sea baseline, the agency said.

Premier William Lai (賴清德) yesterday said that the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would determine if the plan is in line with international laws before speaking publicly.

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