Taiwan supports PH calls to resolve fishing disputes
Taiwan backed the Department of Foreign Affairs’ renewed calls on finding ways to resolve fishing disputes after a stand off with Philippine Coast Guard near Batanes last week.
In a statement, the Taipe Economic and Cultural Office (Teco) in Manila it said it was fully supportive of DFA spokesperson Charles Jose’s statement that the latest incident “needs for an early conclusion of the agreement that would formalize how to resolve fishing disputes, including procedures on the detention and release of any fishing vessels or fisherman, so as to prevent the occurrence of similar incidents in the future.”
“[T]he Taipei Economic and Cultural Office appeals to the Philippine government to take concrete actions to expedite the conclusion of the above-mentioned agreement, to restrain from apprehending or arresting the Taiwanese fishing vessels in the disputed waters of the overlapping exclusive economic zones or on the Philippine contiguous zones in contravention of the international law, and working with Taiwan to prevent the occurrence of similar incidents in the future,” it added.
A Philippine ship with PCG and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources officers onboard tried to arrest Taiwanese fishermen believed to be fishing within Philippine’s contiguous zone last May 25.
The Philippine government defines “contiguous zone” as the 12 nautical mile zone after the 12 nautical miles limit from the territorial sea baseline limit. This is where a state can continue to enforce laws in specific areas namely: customs, taxation, immigration and pollution.
A Taiwanese coast guard ship tried to stop the arrest which led to a four-hour stand off. The fishermen were released later.
Teco said the incident happened in the disputed waters of the overlapping EEZs between Taiwan and Philippines and not within the Philippine territorial waters. The location of the incident occurred at 21.6 nautical miles from Batanes and not within the Philippine 12 nautical miles territorial waters.
“In accordance of the international law and the Unclos, the location is part of the EEZs, it is lawful for the Taiwanese fishing vessels to engage in fishing activities in the EEZs, except smuggling or drug trafficking, and it’s not in conformity with the international law, for the Philippine agencies to arrest or detain the fishing vessels in the EEZs,” TECO said, adding that it has the right to protect its Taiwanese fishing vessels.
Taiwan and the Philippines have been negotiating a fisheries pact since 2013 after a PCG officer shot a Taiwanese fisherman and killed him in waters also near Batanes. TVJ
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