Next fishery talks ‘likely’ by the end of March: MOFA

By Joseph Yeh, The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan hopes that the next round of bilateral preparatory fishery talks between Japan can be held by the end of this month, with the major focus on fishing rights in overlapping territorial waters in the East China Sea, Foreign Minister David Lin (林永樂) said yesterday. “I am cautiously optimistic that the next round of fishery talks between Taiwan and Japan can be held soon,” Lin said at a legislative session yesterday in Taipei.

The foreign minister hopes the next meeting, the third of its kind, will be held in the coming weeks, hopefully by the end of March, he noted, adding that the Japanese side also agrees that the meeting should be held as soon as possible.  The minister said he is also optimistic that Taiwan acn expand its existing fishing grounds in the waters near the disputed Diaoyutai Islands, Lin said.

Both sides made some progress on issues related to fishing rights during a previous second preparatory meeting held on March 13 in Tokyo. “We (Taiwan and Japan) still have different opinions on the scope of the new fishing grounds, that is something for both parties to talk about,” Lin noted. The ministry hopes that the new fishing grounds in the East China Sea can be drawn up using precise coordinates.

The Japan side, however, suggested fishing grounds be separated by a “geographical middle line” between Taiwan and Japan, he noted. Lin also stressed that the ministry will stand firm in safeguarding the country’s sovereignty in negotiating with Japan on fishing rights. “We will not agree to any measures that require Taiwanese fishermen to make payments for fishing in certain areas,” he noted.