Taiwan-Japan fishery talks to continue, despite no consensus

2019/03/12 15:46:04 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
Council of Agriculture deputy chief Chen Tain-shou (陳添壽)

Council of Agriculture deputy chief Chen Tain-shou (陳添壽)

Taipei, March 12 (CNA) The latest round of an annual fishery meeting between Taiwan and Japan concluded in Tokyo last week without consensus, but talks will continue, a Taiwanese agriculture official said Monday.

In the March 5-7 Taiwan-Japan Fisheries Committee meeting, the 8th of its kind, the two sides failed to reach consensus on issues concerning mutual interference between Taiwanese and Japanese fishing boats within the designated areas of their overlapping waters in which both sides can fish, according to Council of Agriculture deputy chief Chen Tain-shou (陳添壽).

Chen said at a press conference in Taipei that this does not mean the talks have broken down, because the two sides can continue to follow the fishing regulations they both agreed upon in a 2013 fisheries pact.

The discussions will continue in late March and early April, Chen added, noting that if the two sides cannot reach consensus on the agenda, the previous arrangements will be adhered to.

The Taiwan-Japan Fisheries Committee was established after the two nations signed an agreement in 2013 allowing fishermen from both sides to operate freely in the overlapping areas of their exclusive economic zones (EEZs) in the East China Sea, despite an ongoing sovereignty dispute.

Before the pact was signed, Taiwanese fishing vessels had frequently been subject to harassment from the Japanese coastguard, as Japan claims jurisdiction over the disputed waters.

The 2013 fisheries agreement covers the maritime zone south of 27 degrees north latitude and north of Japan's Yaeyama and Miyako islands, which is part of the overlapping EEZ area 200 nautical miles off a country's coast. The zone is claimed by both Taiwan and Japan.

Provisions set forth in the agreement, however, do not apply to waters within 12 nautical miles of the Diaoyutai islands, over which both Taiwan and Japan claim sovereignty.

Over the years, talks at the meeting have focused on complaints by fishermen from both sides about interference during their operations within the agreed area and ways to maintain fishing order.

Despite the lack of consensus at the 8th fishery committee meeting, delegates of the two sides agreed to continue the negotiations before the fishing season begins later this year, according to Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).

On Monday, MOFA spokesman Andrew Lee (李憲章) assured Taiwanese fishermen that the government will safeguard their fishing rights.

"Efforts are being made to strive for the maximum benefits of Taiwanese fishermen," he said.

(By Yang Su-min and Emerson Lim)
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