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Taiwan, Philippines may hold fishery meeting next week: official

Taiwan, Philippines may hold fishery meeting next week: official

Taipei, June 2 (CNA) Taiwan and the Philippines may start follow-up discussions next week on cooperative law enforcement in their overlapping economic marine areas, a Taiwanese foreign affairs official said Tuesday. Philippine and Taiwanese fishery officials are due to meet in Taiwan for negotiations on matters such as the scope of such law enforcement by the authorities in each country, said Elliott Charng (???), director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, at a regular news briefing. He said the two countries are still trying to finalize the date for the meeting but it may be held as early as next week in Taipei. The negotiations are being held in the wake of two incidents involving Taiwanese fishing boats in an overlapping economic zone of two countries, and the other incident in Philippines territorial waters, in May. In the latest incident last week, a Taiwanese fishing boat sailing 24 nautical miles off the Philippines attracted the attention of that country's coast guard but left the soon as the patrol vessel approached. The Taiwanese boat reportedly was harassed by the Philippines coast guard, which prompted Taiwan's Coast Guard Administration to send a patrol vessel to protect the fishing boat. The upcoming meeting is part of an effort by Taiwan and the Philippines to resolve their differences on the scope of law enforcement by their respective authorities, especially in contiguous zones, Charng said. Once foreign fishing boats enter waters within 24 nautical miles of the Philippines contiguous zone, an area contiguous to its territorial sea, they are subject to inspection or even detention, a Philippine official has said, citing an administrative decree issued by the country in 2014. Taiwan, however, does not consider the Philippines' claim of rights in a contiguous zone of 24 nautical miles as compliant with international law and sees 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. Until both sides reach an agreement on the issue, Taiwan's Coast Guard will continue its efforts to protect Taiwanese fishing boats operating in such areas, Taiwan's Foreign Ministry said. Despite their differences on the scope of law enforcement, Taiwan and the Philippines will soon sign an agreement on guidelines for cooperative law enforcement in their overlapping economic waters, Charng said. Taiwan and the Philippines have been negotiating an agreement on maritime law enforcement cooperation since late 2013. It was one of the steps taken to improve relations after Philippine Coast Guard officers shot up a Taiwanese fishing boat on May 9, 2013 in an overlapping exclusive economic zone of the two countries. 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 that incident, 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. (By Elaine Hou)


Updated : 2021-09-28 09:32 GMT+08:00