Japan responds positively to fishing grounds request

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 - Page 3

Japan has responded positively to a request by Taiwan that the fishing grounds in disputed waters off the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) be expanded, but how to delineate the area remained to be discussed, Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂) said yesterday.

Lin made the remarks in response to reporters’ inquiries regarding the second round of preparatory talks between Taipei and Tokyo on Wednesday which aimed to resume bilateral fisheries talks on fishing rights in their overlapping territories.

Discussions between Taiwan and Japan on the issue have been stalled since 2009, while the previous 15 rounds of negotiations since 1996 have yielded few results.

Though no conclusive consensus has resulted from the negotiations on Wednesday, talks have seen some progress on issues related to the protection and management of fishery resources and in the delineation of fishing grounds, Lin said.

In the first preparatory talks held in November, Japan suggested that fishing grounds be separated by a “geographical middle line” through the overlapping areas. Taiwan proposed a “proportional middle line” that would take into account the two countries’ areas, populations and economic activities.

On Wednesday, both sides agreed to work on a compromise to allow Taiwanese fishermen to operate in a bigger area than is currently the case within the country’s temporary enforcement line, Lin said.

Lin said he was grateful that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has attached great importance to the fisheries talks and that the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been very supportive of reaching an agreement with Taiwan to resolve the longstanding controversy.