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Taiwan, Philippines to address differences in upcoming fishery meeting

Taiwan, Philippines to address differences in upcoming fishery meeting

Taipei, May 29 (CNA) Taiwan and the Philippines will soon hold a meeting in an effort to address remaining differences on bilateral law enforcement cooperation in their overlapping economic waters, Taiwan's Foreign Minister David Lin (???) said Friday. Officials from both sides' related agencies will gather in the meeting, expected to take place in June, and negotiate on matters such as the scope of law enforcement by respective authorities, Lin told reporters on the sidelines of a swearing-in ceremony for Taiwan's new representatives overseas and other senior foreign affairs officials. Lin's remarks came one day after a Taiwanese fishing boat suspected of entering waters within 24 nautical miles of the Philippines attracted the Philippine Coast Guard's attention but it later left the area when its patrol guard approached the vessel. The Taiwanese fishing boat was reportedly harassed by the Philippine government vessel while operating in the two countries' overlapping exclusive economic zones, prompting Taiwan's Coast Guard Administration to send a patrol vessel to protect the fishing boat, which has resumed normal operations. Lin said that Taiwan and the Philippines will need to further negotiate to resolve their differences on the scope of law enforcement by respective authorities. A Philippine official said that according to an administrative decree issued by the Philippines in 2014, once foreign fishing boats enter waters within 24 nautical miles of its contiguous zone, meaning an area contiguous to its territorial sea, they are subject to inspection or even detention. However, Taiwan considers the Philippines' claim of rights over a contiguous zone of 24 nautical miles as not in line with international law. "We see the area (of between 12-24 nautical miles off the Philippines) as part of an exclusive economic zone," in which Taiwanese fishing boats can operate legally, Lin said. "We've also lodged a protest with the Philippines," Lin said, adding that Philippine officials should not conduct law enforcement in a contiguous zone. Until both sides reached agreement on the issue, Taiwanese coast guards will continue their efforts to protect Taiwanese fishing boats operating there, he added. Despite the differences on the scope of law enforcement, Lin expected that both countries will sign an agreement covering the guideline of law enforcement cooperation in their overlapping economic waters soon. The agreement on law enforcement cooperation covers the consensus the two countries have reached, he said. 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 up a Taiwanese fishing boat on May 9, 2013 in waters where the two countries' exclusive economic zones overlap. The shooting caused the death of a Taiwanese crew member, sparking outrage in Taiwan and a deterioration of bilateral relations. During a series of meetings following the shooting, the two sides reached a consensus on several issues regarding maritime law enforcement cooperation. The consensus included 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 as soon as possible. Although the agreement has yet to be signed, both Taiwanese and Philippine officials have said that law enforcement authorities on each side have been implementing the consensus in an effort to avoid fishing disputes. (By Elaine Hou)


Updated : 2021-09-18 19:02 GMT+08:00