THE Philippines and Taiwan have signed a fisheries agreement that is envisioned to prevent a repeat of the 2013 Balintang Channel incident where a Taiwanese fisherman was fatally shot by a Philippine Coast Guard patrol.
Taiwan, China and the Philippines have overlapping claims to the channel, which is both within the 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) range prescribed by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The incident triggered a diplomatic row between Manila and Taipei.
The agreement was signed in Taipei by Gary Song-huann Lin of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office and Antonio Basilio of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office.
In a statement, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the agreement was signed on November 5.
“The pact is expected to effectively reduce fisheries disputes in the two countries’ overlapping exclusive economic zones and protect the rights and interests of Taiwan fishermen operating legally,” the statement read.
After the signing, both sides immediately convened the first Technical Working Group meeting that reached a consensus on two mechanisms–a one-hour advance notification to the other party and release of detained vessels and crew within three days.
These two measures were made part of the agreement through an exchange of notes, which will be announced after both sides have completed their respective domestic administrative procedures.
Under the agreement, a one-hour advance notification will be given to the fisheries and Coast Guard agencies, as well as representative office, before law enforcement action is taken against a fishing vessel from the other party believed to be operating illegally in the overlapping EEZs.
WITH ABERON VOLTAIRE PALAÑA