Taiwan, Japan set to discuss orderly fishing near disputed isles

Kyodo

A joint Taiwan-Japan committee met Wednesday in Taipei to discuss how to maintain orderly fishing in waters off a cluster of islets in the East China Sea claimed by both in preparation for the beginning of the April fishing season, Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said.

Peter Tsai, head of the Association of East Asian Relations that handles Taiwan’s ties with Japan in the absence of formal diplomatic relations, said the three-day meeting will focus on regulations, which have remained an issue since the two sides signed a landmark fisheries pact in April 2013.

Some fishermen from Okinawa want the government to reduce the size of the area where Taiwanese trawlers are currently allowed to operate, saying what was agreed upon two years ago did not sufficiently take their interests into account.

Tsai said it was his understanding that the Japanese side has not placed the issue on the agenda of this week’s meeting. If it is brought up, however, “we will make our utmost efforts to maintain the interests of our fishermen,” he said.

The pact allows vessels from both sides to fish in what Japan regards as its exclusive economic zone near the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands, known as Tiaoyutai in Taiwan and as Diaoyu in China, which is also a claimant.

The joint committee, which meets annually, was established in part to pursue any issues left unresolved when the pact was signed, including those relating to fishing near the Senkaku and Yaeyama island groups.

During last year’s meeting, the two sides decided to amend regulations to allow their respective fishing vessels more time slots and keep “more proper” distances in specified areas. They also agreed to revisit the regulations before the start of the 2016 fishing season.