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Some Optimism In Taiwan About Pact With Japan On Tuna Fishing Ground Taiwan, April 11, 13


Taiwanese fishermen at work
Representatives of Taiwanese fishermens associations on Wednesday expressed cautious optimism about an agreement signed earlier in the day between Taiwan and Japan on fishing rights in the area around the disputed Diaoyutai (Diaoyu or Senkaku) islands in the East China Sea. The area is frequented by small Taiwanese tuna long liners.

Huang Shen-yi, secretary general of the Yilan Fishermen Rights’ Association, said Taiwan’s fishermen will benefit from the agreed expansion of their fishing grounds, which will allow about 10 additional fishing boats per day to enter the area. With the tuna fishing season about to start at the end of April, the pact will have “some benefits,” Huang said.

Chen Chun-sheng, president of Suao Fishermen Association, said that “the agreement is not satisfactory, but acceptable.” Chen noted that that the previous 16 rounds of talks had produced few tangible results, and this time, both sides have been able to ink a pact to expand the operation area for Taiwanese fishermen.

“We recognize the government’s sincerity and its great efforts,” Chen said.

Other officials at the Suao Fishermen Association said Suao’s fishing haul in recent years has been around NT$3 billion (USD 100 million) per year.

If Taiwan’s fishing boats are allowed within 12 nautical miles of the islands, the annual output could increase by at least another NT$1 billion (USD 33 million), Chen said.

He expressed the hope that the government will continue to expand Taiwan’s fishing rights in the area.

Under the terms of the agreement, Taiwanese and Japanese boats can operate freely in a 74,000-square kilometer area around the islands, according to James Sha, director-general of Taiwan’s Fisheries Agency.

This gives Taiwan an additional 4,530 square kilometers in which its fishermen can operate without interference by Japanese authorities.

Taiwan fishing boats, however, are still not allowed within 12 nautical miles of the islands, according to the agreement.

The latest round of fishery talks between Taiwan and Japan was held to try to iron out their differences on fishing rights in waters near the Diaoyutai islands, known as the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

The islands, some 100 nautical miles northeast of Taiwan, have been under Japan’s administrative control since 1972 but are also claimed by Taiwan and China.

The surrounding waters have been traditional fishing grounds for Taiwanese fishermen, but they have routinely been chased away from the area by Japanese authorities when they venture too close to what Japan sees as its territorial waters.