Government officials from Taiwan and the Philippines reached consensus on implementing a notification mechanism and related procedures, information sharing, and combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing at a recent one-day bilateral fisheries meeting in the Philippines.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the two sides agreed to notify each other within four hours in the event of initiating a law enforcement action against a fishing boat from the respective countries. In addition, they will provide within 24 hours detailed information about the vessel, reasons for the action and supporting evidence.
The two sides agreed to stage drills to ensure smooth implementation of the notification mechanism, as well as establish a cooperation platform in the southern Philippines port of Davao for exchanging information on harbor inspections.
Concerning the rights of Taiwan fishermen to safely operate in waters claimed by the Philippines as its contiguous zones, the Taipei officials maintained that these areas are the country’s exclusive economic zones under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, and urged their Filipino counterparts not to seize Taiwan fishing boats.
Similarly, consensus was not reached on the right of innocent passage by Taiwan fishing boats in waters of the Philippines. The two sides reiterated their respective positions and committed to seeking peaceful resolution of any possible dispute.
The officials from Taipei also took the opportunity to promote the government’s New Southbound Policy and called for further fisheries collaboration between the two sides. In response, their Filipino counterparts expressed support for the mutual benefits and reciprocity contained in the policy.
A key component of President Tsai Ing-wen’s policymaking platform, the peoplecentric New Southbound Policy seeks to deepen agricultural, business, cultural, educational, trade and tourism links with the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations member states, six South Asian countries, Australia and New Zealand.
The Taiwan-Philippines Agreement Concerning the Facilitation of Cooperation on Law Enforcement in Fisheries Matters was concluded Nov. 5, 2015, in Taipei City. The pact arose in the wake of the killing of a Taiwan fisherman by Philippine Coast Guard personnel during an attack on his fishing boat Guang Da Xing No. 28 in May 2013.
The Technical Working Group’s next meeting is scheduled for the first half of 2018 in Taipei, according to the MOFA.