Tue, Mar 12, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan, Japan to continue fisheries talks, council says

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

The government is to continue its fisheries negotiation with Japan at the end of this month or next month, the Council of Agriculture (COA) said yesterday, rebutting Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers’ accusation that it is sacrificing fishers’ rights to cozy up to Japan.

A Taiwanese-Japanese fisheries commission meeting in Tokyo last week did not reach a consensus, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said.

Speaking at a news conference in Taipei, KMT caucus whip Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) said that President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration failed to protect Taiwanese fishers under the 2013 bilateral fisheries agreement signed during former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration, despite its constant claim that Taiwan and Japan are friendly.

Taiwanese fishers have complained that their fishing grounds have kept on shrinking, but the Tsai administration failed to get access to more fishing areas near the Yaeyama Islands in last week’s meeting, showing that it is always meek in the face of Japan, KMT caucus secretary-general John Wu (吳志揚) said.

In the 2013 pact, Taiwan and Japan agreed on an intervention-free fishing area of about 74,000m2 near the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), COA Deputy Minister Chen Tian-shou (陳添壽) said later yesterday.

There is no such thing as negotiations breaking down or fishing areas shrinking, he said.

However, the sea area farther off the south coast of the Yaeyama Islands remains a contentious issue in bilateral negotiations, he said.

Other issues include standards governing the installation of automatic identification systems on ships, and protection and indemnity insurance for boat owners, he said.

Officials cannot release too many details before the negotiations conclude, but they will continue to work with the ministry to strive for more rights for fishers, he said.

The two nations are set to meet again at the end of this month or the beginning of next month, Chen added.

More than 200 Taiwanese fishing vessels operate in the intervention-free areas every year, while only dozens of Japanese boats work there, Fisheries Agency Deep Sea Fisheries Division Deputy Director Wang Mao-cheng (王茂城) said.

Fishers working outside the intervention-free area would encounter “more risks,” and they should duly regulate their own activities, he said.

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