Taiwan, Philippines expected to hold next fishery meeting soon


TAIPEI — Taiwan and the Philippines have reached anagreement to hold their next meeting in Taipei soon in preparation for formal fishery talks, as part of efforts to address fishing disputes in overlapping waters, an official said.

The second preparatory meeting is expected to be held within a month, said Benjamin Ho, director-general of the Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs in Taiwan’s foreign ministry.

Ho’s remarks came as bilateral relations returned to normal, after Taiwan on Aug. 8 lifted a series of sanctions that had been imposed against the Philippines over its handling of the shooting death of a Taiwanese fisherman by the Philippine Coast Guard personnel in May.

Issues to be on the agenda of the preparatory meeting are likely to include an agreement that would cover the full consensus reached in the first meeting in June and discussion on defining areas in which fishermen from both sides will be allowed to operate, Ho said. In the first preparatory meeting on June 14, the two sides reached an initial consensus on several issues, including no use of force or violence during patrols of the fishing grounds and establishing a mechanism to inform each other in the event of fishery incidents.

“During the next meeting, we hope to sign an agreement or a memorandum of understanding that would cover the previous consensus,” Ho told CNA.

Taiwan is also hoping to sign a fishing agreement with the Philippines, Ho said, adding that the Taiwan-Japan fishing pact is a model that could be followed.

Relations between Taiwan and the Philippines had been strained since May 9, when Philippine Coast Guard personnel attacked a Taiwanese fishing boat in an overlapping exclusive economic zone of the two countries, resulting in the death of a Taiwanese fisherman, Hung Shih-cheng.

But the situation improved recently with Manila’s positive response to four demands made by Taiwan soon after the incident.

Taiwan had insisted that Manila formally apologize for the shooting, punish those responsible, compensate the victim’s family and hold bilateral fishery talks to prevent the reoccurrence of such incidents.

When the Philippines initially balked at the demands, Taiwan imposed several punitive measures on May 15, including a freeze on the hiring of Filipino workers in Taiwan and a travel alert to discourage Taiwanese nationals from visiting the Philippines.

The sanctions were lifted on Aug. 8 after Taiwan’s demands were met.