Coast guard set to continue to patrol disputed waters

Staff writer, with CNA  / 

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 - Page 3

The Coast Guard Administration is to continue to safeguard the rights of Taiwanese vessels in waters near the disputed Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), an official said recently following the inking of a fisheries pact with Japan.

“We believe that the coast guard should operate wherever the fishing boats are,” Coast Guard Administration Minister Wang Jinn-wang (王進旺) said in an interview.

Wang said the coast guard would continue to carry out its responsibilities to ensure the nation’s fishing rights in the area, stressing that the islands are part of the Republic of China’s territory.

He added that the Coast Guard Administration would remain on course to obtain 37 patrol boats, two of which would have a displacement of 2,700 tonnes, by 2019 to safeguard Taiwanese fishermen operating in the area.

Under the agreement reached with Japan on April 10, Taiwanese and Japanese boats can operate freely in a 74,300km2 area around the Diaoyutais, known as Senkaku Islands in Japan.

While the two sides agreed that the pact was focused on the two sides’ respective fishing rights, they also said the agreement would not undermine each other’s territorial claims over the islands.

The Diaoyutais, located about 120 nautical miles (220km) northeast of Taipei, are also claimed by China.

The surrounding waters have been traditional fishing grounds for Taiwanese fishermen, but they have routinely been chased away from the area by Japanese authorities when they venture too close to what Japan sees as its territorial waters.