MOFA mum on date of next Philippines fishery meeting


TAIPEI — Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday would not provide details on the country’s next fishery meeting with the Philippines and refused to comment on a media report that the meeting will take place this coming week in Taipei.

“We will announce details at an appropriate time,” said ministry spokeswoman Anna Kao when asked by CNA about the meeting.

A diplomatic source said Saturday that Taipei and Manila will hold the delayed fishery meeting in Taipei soon and discuss how to implement proposals made at a previous meeting in June on maintaining order in their overlapping exclusive economic zones.

The meeting could be upgraded from “preparatory” talks to “formal” talks and will highlight law enforcement cooperation between Taiwan and the Philippines, the source said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The United Evening News reported on Friday that the next Taiwan-Philippine fishery meeting will take place sometime this week.

Declining to provide any details of the meeting, Kao said the two sides have continued to negotiate on cooperation in protecting marine resources while ensuring fishing rights.

After an initial meeting on June 14, the two countries had agreed to hold a second meeting on Sept. 16, but it was delayed because of the fighting between Muslim rebels and government forces in the southern Philippines, according to the ministry.

Both Taiwanese and Philippine officials have said one of the goals of the next meeting is to issue a joint statement that includes the consensus reached at the June 14 meeting.

That meeting was held on June 14 in response to an attack by a Philippine Coast Guard vessel on a Taiwanese fishing boat on May 9 in the two countries’ overlapping exclusive economic zone.

The attack left 65-year-old Taiwanese fisherman Hung Shih-cheng dead and triggered a diplomatic standoff between Taipei and Manila that lasted into early August.

The two sides reached an initial consensus on June 14 that there should be no use of force or violence during patrols of fishing grounds and that a mechanism should be established to inform each other of any fishery related incidents.

The mechanism will expedite notification of incidents such as maritime chases, the boarding and inspection of fishing boats by either side, and the arrest and detention of fishermen, the ministry said.