Saturday, March 11, 2017

Taiwan-Philippines fishery meeting sees agreement on proposals

Taiwan's Representative to the Philippines Gary Lin (second right) shakes hands with Manila Economic and Cultural Office director Cesar Drilon Jr. in a fishery meeting in Manila Friday.
Taiwan's Representative to the Philippines Gary Lin (second right) shakes hands with Manila Economic and Cultural Office director Cesar Drilon Jr. in a fishery meeting in Manila Friday. Photo: Focus Taiwan

Taiwan and the Philippines reached agreement on several fishery cooperation proposals during a meeting held Thursday in Manila, according to Taiwan's representative to the Philippines, Gary Lin (林松煥).

In the third Taiwan-Philippines technical meeting on fishery affairs, representatives from Manila answered a request by Taipei, promising efforts to push for the legislation of a "sea-land passage bill" that would allow innocent passage by fishing boats from Taiwan or other countries through waterways between Philippines-controlled archipelagos, Lin said Friday.

Such a bill would help to reduce fishing disputes, Lin said, adding that the fishery meetings have helped boost relations between Taiwan and the Philippines and their cooperation in law enforcement efforts related to fishing.

Thanks to the meetings, which began in 2015 under the principle that at least one meeting is held each year, the two countries have gradually established mutual trust in law enforcement aimed at protecting fishermen's rights and interests, and have seen their friendship deepened, Lin said.

During Thursday's meeting, the Taiwanese and Philippine delegates reached agreement on proposals to promote the enforcement of fishery regulations, deepen and complete the mutual reporting mechanism, and establish a communication hotline.

They also agreed that Taiwanese fishing boats will receive assistance if they seek passage through Philippines territorial waters, and that the two countries will share fishery information and jointly crack down on illegal fishing, according to Lin.

Taiwan and the Philippines signed a fishery agreement in 2015, two years after a Taiwanese fisherman was killed in May 2013 when a Philippine Coast Guard vessel strafed his family's fishing boat in waters that both countries consider part of their exclusive economic zones.

The shooting triggered a diplomatic row, but eventually led to negotiations over how to avoid similar incidents in the future.

Under the pact, the two sides organized their own technical working panels, which hold at least one meeting each year to discuss the execution of fishery law enforcement. The first meeting was held in Taipei in November 2015, and the second of its kind took place in March 2016, also in Taipei. - Focus Taiwan

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