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Taiwan urges Philippines to release Taiwanese fishing boat

Taiwan urges Philippines to release Taiwanese fishing boat

Taipei, May 7 (CNA) Taiwan urged the Philippines on Thursday to release the Taiwanese fishing boat and fishermen on board once it completes a necessary investigation on whether the boat was operating illegally in waters off the Philippines. "The Philippine authorities have notified us of the incident," said Anna Kao (??), spokeswoman for Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, when asked about the incident. "Our representative office in the Philippines has been following the developments of the incident," she said. "We urge the Philippine authorities to release the boat and the fishermen as soon as the necessary investigation has been completed." The boat remains intact and the crew on board is safe, she added. Asked by CNA about the issue, the Manila Economic and Cultural Office, the Philippines' representative office in Taiwan, said that "it is coordinating with Philippine agencies on the matter." The Pingtung-registered "Sheng Feng No. 12" was passing through waters 6.5 nautical miles from Yami island, among the Batanes Islands in the northern Philippines, early Thursday morning when inspectors on a Philippine ship approached and boarded the fishing boat to investigate possible poaching of fish, according to a fishermen's association in Pingtung's Liouciou, where the boat is based. The fishing boat departed Wednesday morning for Davao in the southern Philippines but was held in waters off Batanes Islands, the association said. The boat with two Taiwanese and four foreign crew members aboard was still being detained as the investigation continues, it added. The incident came as Taiwan and the Philippines are trying to sign an agreement covering law enforcement cooperation in fishing matters in their overlapping economic waters. Taiwan and the Philippines have been negotiating an agreement on maritime law enforcement cooperation since late 2013, one of the steps taken to improve relations after Philippine Coast Guard officers shot at a Taiwanese fishing boat on May 9, 2013 in waters where the two countries' exclusive economic zones overlap. The shooting incident caused the death of one of the Taiwanese crew members on the boat, sparking outrage in Taiwan and the deterioration of bilateral relations. Following the shooting incident, a series of fishery meetings were held to try to get relations back on track, and the two sides reached a consensus on several issues regarding maritime law enforcement cooperation. These include no use of force or violence when patrolling fishing grounds, the establishment of a mechanism to inform each other in the event of fishery incidents, and the release of detained fishermen and boats in an expedited manner. (By Elaine Hou and Kuo Chih-hsuan)


Updated : 2021-09-22 16:36 GMT+08:00