Fisheries deal a ‘triumph’: US expert

Staff writer, with CNA, WASHINGTON

Thu, May 02, 2013 - Page 3

The fisheries agreement signed last month between Taiwan and Japan is a victory for both sides and can be a path toward the management of regional tensions, a US expert on Asian affairs said on Tuesday.

The agreement, which deals with fishing rights in waters surrounding the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), is a “triumph for pragmatism” that helps promote the interests of both sides, Robert Hathaway, director of the Asian Program at the Wilson Center, in Washington said in an interview with the Central News Agency.

“I think from Washington’s standpoint, the fisheries agreement is a win-win deal for Japan and Taiwan ... one hopes that the parties to the Diaoyutai dispute can also summon the political will to create win-win-win situations for the various disputes that may involve joint development of resources,” Hathaway said.

Taipei and Tokyo signed the agreement on April 10 under which Taiwanese and Japanese boats can operate freely in a 74,300km2 area of ocean around the Diaoyutai Islands.

It gives Taiwanese fishermen an additional 4,530km2 in which they can operate free of interference from the Japanese authorities. However, Taiwanese fishing boats are still not allowed within 12 nautical miles (22km) of the island group.

Hathaway said it is “clearly an advantageous treaty” for Taipei because it allows Taiwanese fishermen to fish safely without fear of being arrested by the Japanese authorities.

The pact is “more than simply an agreement on fishing” as it creates an institutionalized Taiwan-Japan fisheries committee, which makes it far easier to handle disagreements, he said.

“It sets the good pattern for dealing with some of these broader or emotional, frankly more dangerous, fishing areas in the region,” he said.

He said the agreement was negotiated upon the principle of purity and reciprocity, which creates a broader diplomatic space for Taipei.