Taiwan, Japan fishing talks set to continue in Tokyo

Staff writer, with CNA

Thu, Dec 26, 2013 - Page 3

A second meeting of a Taiwan-Japan fisheries commission is to be held in Tokyo to address issues related to the regulation of fishing operations in the nations’ overlapping waters in the East China Sea, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.

The meeting, to take place today, will be cohosted by Taiwan’s Association of East Asian Relations and Japan’s Interchange Association, the ministry said in a statement.

Officials from the two sides are to discuss issues regarding the regulation of fishing methods in a designated area of the East China Sea in which fishermen from both countries are allowed to operate freely, the ministry said.

The Tokyo meeting follows a two-day meeting held earlier this month in Suao (蘇澳), Yilan County, that was attended by representatives from fishermen’s associations on both sides.

During that meeting, representatives agreed to continue negotiations on fishing regulations to avoid disputes, the ministry said.

The sticking point of the meeting involved the direction in which fishing lines are deployed and the distance maintained between longline fishing boats while they are operating in the two countries’ overlapping exclusive economic zones.

The Japanese side proposed that the two sides adopt its operating method, which requires fishing boats to set their lines in a north-south direction and to maintain a 4 nautical mile (7.4km) distance between them.

The Taiwanese side, which has a larger number of fishing boats operating in the area, advocated its own approach, which is to deploy lines in an east-west direction and maintain a 1 nautical mile distance between boats.

The Taiwan-Japan fishing commission was established as part of an agreement signed on April 10 by Taiwan and Japan on fishing rights in waters in the East China Sea near the disputed Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), known as the Senkakus in Japan.

The first meeting of the commission took place on May 7 in Taipei.

Under the terms of the agreement, Taiwanese and Japanese boats can operate freely in a 74,300km2 area around the Diaoyutai Islands, Taiwan’s Fisheries Agency said.

That gives Taiwanese fishermen an additional 4,530km2 in which they can operate without interference from Japanese authorities, the agency said.