Benjamin Ho, Director-general of the Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Thursday that the next phase of the Taiwan-Philippine Fisheries Talks will focus on improving Taiwan's status in the negotiations. He noted that the result will be an agreement similar to the one signed by Taiwan and Japan, with a timetable that calls for completion by the end of August at the soonest.
With most of the causes of contention in the Kwang-tah-hsing case resolved, the next phase of talks could be held within a month in Taipei, with an emphasis on working to eliminate fishery disputes between the two parties. Preparatory talks for the series were held for the first time on June 14, at which time the two sides signed a four-point agreement stating that each party pledged to refrain from using force or violence against ships of the other party.
The preliminary agreement reached with the Philippine negotiators by a group headed by Deputy Director Tsai Jih-yao called for the implementation of a maritime law enforcement cooperation mechanism to guarantee that law enforcement vessels of either side will not use force or violence against fishing boats of the other side. In turn, fishing boat crews will avoid any actions that might cause the other side to think they are operating illegally or outside of authorized areas and lead to hot pursuit, boarding and inspection and the arrest or detention of crew. The two sides agreed to work out procedures for handling administrative and judicial cases and to establish a notification mechanism when incidents occur between ships of the two sides.
Both sides have also agreed that when members of a crew are arrested and/or a boat is impounded, the government will promptly notify the other national government of the action. Moreover, the government of each side will work in cooperation to obtain the release of any detained vessel and crew in accordance with international practice,