Taiwan and the Philippines are expected to soon sign an agreement covering law enforcement cooperation in fishing matters in their overlapping economic waters, a Taiwanese official said yesterday, adding that the pact is under “final review.”
The content of the agreement is still pending final approval by the Philippine government before the two countries can sign the pact, said Elliot Charng (常以立), director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.
However, Charng said he expected that the agreement would be signed in the coming months.
“We hope the agreement will be signed before the fishing season starts in April,” he told reporters at a news briefing.
Taipei and Manila have been negotiating an agreement on maritime law enforcement cooperation since last year, one of the steps taken to improve relations after Philippine Coast Guard officers shot up a Taiwanese fishing boat on May 9 last year, in waters where the two countries’ exclusive economic zones overlap.
The shooting incident caused the death of one of the Taiwanese crew members on the boat, sparking outrage in Taiwan and the deterioration of bilateral relations.
During a series of fishery meetings following the shooting incident to try to get relations back on track, the two sides reached a consensus on several issues regarding maritime law enforcement cooperation.
These include no use of force or violence when patrolling fishing grounds, the establishment of a mechanism to inform each other in the event of fishery incidents and the release of detained fishermen and boats as soon as possible.
Although the agreement has yet to be signed, Taiwanese and Philippine officials have said repeatedly that law enforcement authorities on both sides have been implementing the consensus in an effort to avoid fishing disputes.
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