Taiwan, Philippines agree to avoid use of force in fishing disputes

AFP-JIJI

Taiwan and the Philippines have pledged not to use force in fishing disputes, officials said, as the two sides tackle a row over the killing of a Taiwanese fisherman by Filipino coastguardsmen.

The agreement was reached during their first preparatory meeting on fishery cooperation held in Manila on Friday, Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement released late Saturday.

It said the agreement was aimed at avoiding a recurrence of incidents such as the death of Hung Shih-cheng, 65, who died after his boat was fired upon by the Filipino coast guard while operating in waters near a Philippine island that Taiwan claims as part of its economic zone.

“Both sides have guaranteed to avoid the use of armed force or violence in the implementation of fisheries laws,” it said.

The two sides agreed to share their maritime law enforcement procedures and establish means for notifying each other without delay whenever actions are taken against vessels and crews of the other party. They also agreed to develop a mechanism for the prompt release of detained fishing vessels and their crews, in line with international practice, according to the statement.

Further meetings would be held on fisheries cooperation, including management and conservation, it said.