Fishing associations from Taiwan, Japan sign search and rescue agreement

Kyodo

Fishing associations from Taiwan and Japan signed an agreement this week on search and rescue operations at sea to forge the first nongovernmental fishery pact between Taiwan and Japan.

The Fisheries Agency said in a statement Thursday that Huang Yi-cheng, head of the National Fishermen’s Association, inked the deal with Toshiro Shirasu, president of the Japan Fisheries Association, in New Taipei City, northern Taiwan.

Lin Chi-chang, general manager of the National Fishermen’s Association, said that a joint committee will be established under the agreement to help settle fishing disputes or coordinate the rescue of people in distress at sea when an accident occurs.

“The signing of the deal marks a milestone in the bilateral negotiations that began in November 2005,” he said. “The agreement is a show of goodwill between both sides.”

The milestone came soon after Taiwanese and Japanese fishermen came to a consensus March 10 on fishing off the Senkaku Islands, the cluster Japan-administered islets in the East China Sea claimed by both Taiwan and China.

To avoid their nets becoming entangled, Taiwanese fishermen agreed under the earlier agreement to cast theirs from east to west in the triangle area. They will haul in their nets before noon so their Japanese counterparts can enter the area.

Japanese fishermen meanwhile agreed to inform the Suao Fishermen’s Association five days in advance if they plan to fish in that area.

Implementation of the measure is slated for April 20. If all goes well, it will be presented to the joint fishing committee.

Japan and Taiwan have a fisheries pact that allows Taiwanese fishing trawlers to operate in part of Japan’s exclusive economic zone near the Senkaku Islands.