Officials and fisheries representatives from Taiwan and Japan met in Taipei yesterday to negotiate how to implement the two countries’ recently signed fisheries accord, in terms of which a joint fishing zone was set up in waters surrounding the contested Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), over which both sides claim sovereignty. The islands are known in Japan as the Senkakus.
Both sides agreed that the fisheries accord will come into force on Friday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said after the meeting.
At Taipei’s Ambassador Hotel, 19 officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Fisheries Agency and Coast Guard Administration, as well as representatives from fishermen’s associations in Yilan County and Keelung City, shared a table with their Japanese counterparts in negotiations that lasted the whole day yesterday.
The negotiation was the first-ever meeting held under the auspices of the fishing commission — a mechanism established under the fisheries accord to serve as an institutionalized platform for the two sides to discuss fishing disputes.
Fishermen’s representatives from Japan’s Okinawa Prefecture also attended the meeting.
Okinawa’s fishermen have on several occasions lodged protests over the accord, accusing Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of ignoring the interests of the local fishing industry in waters known as good tuna-fishing grounds.
After the meeting, Fisheries Agency Director-General James Sha (沙志一) said that much of the discussion focused on how both sides can avoid controversies when fishing in the delineated joint fishing zone.
Both sides agreed to set up another meeting for more discussion later this year, he added.
The Taiwanese side was led by Chang Jen-joe (張仁久), counselor on home assignment at the ministry’s Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, while the Japanese group was led by the Japan Interchange Association’s Taipei Office secretary-general Kenichi Okada.
The legislature passed an amendment to the Fisheries Act (漁業法) to codify the fisheries accord into domestic law on Friday last week.
The Central News Agency yesterday cited a report by Japanese broadcaster NHK saying that Japan revised its rules to allow Taiwanese fishing vessels to operate in its exclusive economic zone around the islands, in accordance with the fisheries accord.