The legislature yesterday passed an amendment to the Fisheries Act (漁業法) to bring it in line with the recently signed Taiwan-Japan fisheries agreement which aims to end disputes over fishing rights in the waters surrounding the contested Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台).
Under the accord signed by the two nations on April 10, both countries’ fishing vessels can operate in a designated area surrounding the islets, between latitude 27° north and the Sakishima Islands, Okinawa Prefecture, without being subject to the jurisdiction of the other side, while another zone was placed under the joint management of both sides.
Taiwanese fishermen are allowed by the accord to operate in an area of 22,869.75 square nautical miles (74,000km2), but both sides claim jurisdiction over waters within 12 nautical miles of the Diaoyutais, which are known in Japan as the Senkakus.
Based on the fisheries accord, paragraph 1 of Article 69 of the Fisheries Act was amended to cover cases of foreign vessels entering the nation’s exclusive economic zone.
The passage of the amendment “has codified the fisheries accord into domestic law,” Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) said.
Meanwhile, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the first meeting of a fisheries commission set up by Taiwan and Japan is to be held next week in Taipei to address issues related to fishing in disputed waters in the East China Sea.
The decision to hold the first meeting of the fisheries commission on Tuesday was made during a two-day preparatory meeting that ended on Thursday in Tokyo, the ministry said in a statement.
The preparatory meeting, which discussed issues related to the operations of the fisheries commission, went smoothly according to the ministry, but it declined to give any details of next week’s meeting.
Taiwan’s delegation to the preparatory meeting was led by Chou Shyue-yow (周學佑), an official from Taiwan’s representative office in Tokyo. It also included officials from the Foreign Ministry, the Fisheries Agency and the Coast Guard Administration.
Japan’s delegation was led by Michihiko Komatsu, head of the Interchange Association, Japan’s general affairs section, and included officials from Japan’s fisheries agency, foreign affairs ministry and coast guard, according to the association.
The association, which represents Japanese interests in Taiwan in the absence of formal diplomatic ties, said representatives from a fishing committee in Japan’s Okinawa Prefecture also attended the meeting as observers.
Fishermen in Okinawa have complained about the agreement, saying it could affect their fishing rights.
The establishment of a bilateral fisheries commission was contained in the fisheries agreement. The commission will deal with other issues related to fishing in the disputed waters around the Diaoyutais, the ministry said.
The commission consists of four members — two from Taiwan and two from Japan, in accordance with the agreement.
The Diaoyutais, some 100 nautical miles northeast of Taiwan, are also claimed by China.
The waters surrounding the islands have long been fishing grounds for Taiwanese fishermen, but they have been routinely chased away from the area by the Japan Coast Guard when they venture too close to what Japan regards as its territorial waters.