Taipei and Manila set up fishery hotline in bilateral talks: MOFA
By Joseph Yeh ,The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan and the Philippines have officially established a hotline to facilitate two-way communication in the event of future fishing incidents as both sides concluded a fresh round of bilateral fishery talks in Taipei yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said.
October 23, 2013, 12:08 am TWN
Taiwan and Philippine officials signed off on meeting minutes of the bilateral fishery talks, in which both sides agreed to establish a hotline and disavowed the use of force in patrols within overlapping fishing zones, MOFA said in a released statement.
Both countries also decided to set up a mechanism for the prompt release of detained fishing vessels and their crews following arrests, it added.
The mechanism and hotline will be implemented immediately, MOFA said.
The establishment of the mechanism and hotline will help prevent a recurrence of the shooting death of 65-year-old Taiwanese fisherman Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成) by Philippine Coast Guard personnel on May 9, when the Taiwanese fishing boat on which Hung worked was operating in the overlapping exclusive economic zones of the two countries, the ministry said.
Meanwhile, Philippine representatives promised that they will continue to amend domestic laws to forbid its law enforcement officers from using force or violence in law enforcement actions unless their lives are in danger.
Both sides have also agreed to form a working group to deal with issues such as fisheries cooperation, maintenance of order in fishing operations, and resource management and conservation, the MOFA statement added.
A diplomatic source, who asked to remain anonymous, said yesterday that the meeting, which began on Monday, was joined by officials from the fisheries, foreign affairs and maritime patrol agencies of the two countries.
The Taiwanese delegation was headed by Taiwan's top envoy to the Philippines Raymond Wang (王樂生), while the Philippines delegation was headed by Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) Chairman Amadeo Perez. The meeting minutes were signed by Wang and Perez.
Though the meeting minutes did not comprise an official agreement, the diplomatic source said that in international law, a written document signed by authorized officials representing their respective governments is legally binding.
No Consensus on Fishery Boundary
The source, however, said both sides have not yet reached an agreement defining the areas in which fishermen of each country can operate within overlapping waters.
”Both sides touched on the issue of fishery boundaries (during the meeting) but no consensus has been reached,” the source said.
Taiwan and the Philippines hoped to reach a consensus in future talks, the source said.
Taipei and Manila previously held a preparatory meeting in Manila on June 14, during which they reached an initial consensus on several issues.
The bilateral fishery talks were initiated in the wake of a warming in bilateral relations, after Taiwan on Aug. 8 lifted a series of sanctions imposed against the Philippines over its handling of the shooting death of Hung by Philippine Coast Guard personnel in May.