Ma unveils fisheries measures for Manila, praises Japan pact

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff reporter

Mon, Jun 24, 2013 - Page 3

The government’s signing of a fisheries agreement with Japan has succeeded in protecting the rights of Taiwanese fishermen, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday during a visit to Toucheng Township (頭城) in Yilan County, where he unveiled measures designed to resolve fishing disputes with the Philippines in waters claimed by the two nations.

Taiwan and Japan inked a fisheries agreement in April aimed at ending fishing disputes in waters surrounding the contested Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), which are known as the Senkakus Islands in Japan.

The agreement includes an escape clause which Taipei said allows both sides to set aside disputes over their competing sovereignty claims to the islands.

“More than 1,000 bluefin tuna have been caught in waters around the nation in the past two months and the majority of all types of fish are also caught in this area,” Ma said while attending the launch ceremony of Wushi Fishery Harbor’s wharf in Toucheng.

The Diaoyutai Islands fall under the jurisdiction of the Yilan County Government and the waters surrounding them have long been a traditional fishing ground for Taiwanese fisherman. Ma said the fisheries agreement with Japan aims to allow local fishermen to operate in the area without harassment.

The agreement gives Taiwanese fishermen an additional 4,530km2 in which they can operate without interference from the Japanese authorities. The expanded zone encompasses a triangular area between 25? north latitude, 122.8? east longitude and 124.7? east longitude.

As to the fishery disputes with the Philippines, Ma said the government has reached a consensus with Manila to establish a mechanism for both sides to notify each other of any incidents involving fishing vessels and to determine how the respective authorities should handle such cases.

Meanwhile, Ma, who doubles as Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman, is set to make more frequent visits to the nation’s cities and counties over the coming weekends as he campaigns for re-election as KMT chairman.

The president is to visit Taoyuan, Hsinchu and Miaoli counties on Saturday to discuss his campaign platforms with party members, said Yang Wei-chung (楊偉中), his re-election campaign office spokesman

The campaign office is arranging for Ma to visit at least three cities or counties a day on weekends to enhance his communication with party members, Yang said.

The KMT chairmanship election is to be held on July 20.

Ma’s only challenger, KMT Central Standing Committee member Hsieh Kun-hung (謝坤宏), said he is also planning similar visits to liase with party members around the nation.

Hsieh repeated his call for Ma to be a “people’s president” and concentrate solely on the presidency.