Taipei, April 10 (CNA) The first meeting of a working group on fishery cooperation between Taiwan and Japan was held in Tokyo on Sunday, with the members discussing fishing rights and the management of fishery resources, according to Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).
The meeting, held under the mechanism of a Taiwan-Japan dialogue on maritime affairs, tackled several fishery matters of common concern, including the thorny issues of fishing rules in the East China Sea near the disputed Diaoyutai Islands and fishing rights near the Japan-controlled Okinotori atoll, the ministry said in a statement Monday.
The representatives of both sides also discussed the management of eel resources, small tuna long liners, and Pacific saury harvesting by the North Pacific Fisheries Commission, according to the ministry.
It said although the two sides held different positions on the Okinotori issue, the discussion helped to promote mutual understanding.
Japan classifies Okinotori, a 9-square-meter uninhabited Pacific atoll that lies 1,600 km east of Taiwan, as an island, which means it is entitled to a 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone.
Taiwan, however, maintains that Okinotori is not an island because it is unable to sustain human habitation and has accused Japan of carrying out land reclamation to expand the atoll.
A dispute erupted last April after a Taiwanese fishing boat was detained by Japan on the high seas near Okinotori.
The administration of then-President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) lodged a strong protest with Japan against the authorities' refusal to release the boat until the owner paid a security deposit of 6 million Japanese yen (US$54,000).
Since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office last May, her administration has been pushing for dialogue between Taiwan and Japan on maritime affairs in an effort to promote bilateral ties and narrow the differences on controversial issues.
(By Scarlett Chai and Y.F. Low)