Fishery meetings hinge on reports, compensation

DELAYS::With Manila and Taipei yet to release their reports into the shooting death of a Taiwanese fisherman, a fisheries deal may still be some way off

Staff writer, with CNA

Mon, Jul 15, 2013 - Page 3

A second meeting to discuss fishing disputes between Taiwan and the Philippines is set to be held after reports on the shooting death of a Taiwanese fisherman by Philippine Coast Guard personnel are released and the victim’s family receives compensation from Manila, officials said yesterday.

Taipei and Manila first held a meeting on June 14 to address fishing disputes in waters where their exclusive economic zones overlap.

The Philippines had proposed holding a second meeting in the first week of this month, but has not yet made a request for a firm date, Benjamin Ho (何登煌), director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said yesterday.

Asked about the issue, Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂) said the fishery meeting “is tied to” the Philippine report on the shooting incident in May in which 65-year-old fisherman Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成) was killed, sparking a diplomatic row between the two countries and military exercises by the Republic of China Navy in waters near the incident.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, both sides have completed their respective reports on the May 9 attack, in which the Taiwanese fishing boat the Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28 was strafed by a Philippine vessel while operating in the overlapping economic zones of the two nations.

However, more than two months after the shooting the reports have yet to be released.

The Philippine report, which was compiled by its National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), has been sent to Philippine President Benigno Aquino III and is awaiting his approval.

Lin said that Aquino has been discussing the issue with the Philippine Department of Justice and the NBI.

Lin expressed hope that the Philippines will release the report as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, Taiwan and the Philippines said they have reached a consensus to give priority to the reports and the Philippines’ compensation for the victim’s family, a Taiwanese diplomatic source said.

The second fishery meeting will not be held until the two issues have been resolved, the source added.

In the June 14 meeting, the two sides reached an initial consensus on several issues, including the non use of force to police fishing grounds and establishing a mechanism that will enable each side to notify the other in the event of fishery incidents.

Taiwan “will continue to push the Philippines” to keep its promise to revise its maritime law enforcement regulations, the source said.

“We expect concrete results on the issue to be reached during the second meeting,” the source added.