National / Politics

Japan-Taiwan talks on fishing near Senkakus end with some progress

Kyodo

A Japan-Taiwan joint fishery committee has agreed to amend current regulations regarding fishing in waters around a cluster of Taiwan-claimed, Japan-administered islands in the East China Sea at least for this year’s fishing season starting next month, according to Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry.

The ministry said in a statement after a two-day meeting in Taipei that ended late Friday that the two sides agreed to revise fishing regulations in the so-called inverted triangle area, one of the designated zones of the Japan-Taiwan fisheries agreement.

Taiwan’s Fisheries Agency Director-General Huang Hung-yan said that the two sides agreed that Japanese fishing boats will operate in the east side of the inverted triangle area, while Taiwanese fishing boats will operate on the west side.

The two sides also agreed to train fishing boat operators to properly use the automatic identification system to ensure safety.

The meeting, which focused on fishing regulations near the inverted triangle area north of Japan’s Yaeyama Islands, came on the heels of a recent incident involving a Taiwanese boat chased away out of the area by vessels of Japan’s Fisheries Agency.

According to the agency, the Taiwanese boat Dong Ban Chiou No. 28 had intruded into Japanese waters and was fishing illegally.

Taiwan protested to Japan over what it called “excessive” actions taken against the Taiwan pleasure boat, and urged Tokyo to negotiate fishing activities in overlapping exclusive economic zones outside the area covered by the Taiwan-Japan fisheries agreement signed in 2013.

After days of investigation, Taiwan’s Fisheries Agency said that the Taiwanese boat, which set sail for the East China Sea on Feb. 28, violated the bilateral fisheries pact on March 3 because it had not obtained permission to fish in that area.

The boat also exceeded the legal limit by traveling more than 30 nautical miles allowed for a pleasure fishing boat, when on March 4 it was repelled by Japanese vessels with water cannons.

Taiwan and Japan signed a landmark fisheries pact in April 2013, ending a decades-long dispute over fishing in the contested waters of the East China Sea rich with fish and potential deposits of oil and gas.

The agreement allows Taiwanese fishing trawlers to operate in part of Japan’s exclusive economic zone near the Senkaku Islands. Taiwan and China also claim the uninhabited islets, calling them Tiaoyutai and Diaoyu, respectively.

Both sides also agreed to set up a joint fishing committee to continue negotiating on issues they failed to agree upon, including fishing in waters above 27 degrees north latitude and waters south of the Yaeyama Islands.