Taiwan and Japan strike compromise in fisheries talks

Staff writer, with CNA

Sun, Jan 26, 2014 - Page 3

Taiwan and Japan struck a compromise in talks in Taipei on Friday about allowing fishing boats from both sides to operate in overlapping waters in the East China Sea, Fishery Agency Director-General James Sha (沙志一) said.

Under the agreement, there will be no exclusion of fishing boats from either side in fishing grounds shared by fishing boats from the two countries.

Ground rules were also established to avoid friction caused by different operating methods, Sha said.

The rules were targeted at the 4,530km2 zone surrounding the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) in the East China Sea that was opened to Taiwanese fishing vessels in a historic fishing agreement signed by Taiwan and Japan in April last year.

The two sides agreed that all fishing boats should adopt the Japanese method of operations in one area of the zone (known as Z1) east of the Diaoyutais from May to early July and in another area north of the Yaeyama Islands (known as Z2) from April to July, the traditional tuna-fishing season, Sha said.

At all other times of the year, fishing boats should adopt the Taiwanese approach, the official said.

The Japanese side will also notify Taiwan’s fishing association before its boats can operate in those two areas, Sha said.

The guidelines were needed to prevent conflicts as Japanese fishing boats draw their lines in a north-south direction and maintain a 4 nautical mile (7.4km) distance between them, while the Taiwanese boats deploy lines in an east-west direction and maintain a distance of 1 nautical mile.

Fishermen from the Yaeyama Islands had also complained about being forced out of the Z2 area by the large numbers of Taiwanese fishing boats converging there since the agreement was signed, Sha said.

Both sides also agreed to make sure all fishing boats are insured, he said.