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Taiwan, Japan hold second fishery commission meeting

TAIPEI -- A second meeting of a Taiwan-Japan fishery commission was held yesterday in Tokyo to address issues related to the regulation of fishing operations in their overlapping waters in the East China Sea, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

The meeting was co-hosted by Taiwan's Association of East Asian Relations — which handles Taiwan's interests in the absence of diplomatic ties with Japan — and Japan's Interchange Association, which represents Japan's interests in Taiwan, the ministry said in a statement.

Officials from the two sides broached issues regarding the regulation of fishing methods in a designated area of the East China Sea in which fishermen from both countries are allowed to operate freely, the ministry said.

The Tokyo meeting follows a two-day meeting held earlier this month in Suao, Eastern Taiwan, which was attended by representatives from fishermen's associations on both sides.

During that meeting, they agreed to continue negotiations on fishing regulations to avoid disputes, the ministry said. The sticking point of the meeting involved the direction in which fishing lines are deployed and the distance maintained between long-line fishing boats while they are operating in the two countries' overlapping exclusive economic zones.

The Japanese side proposed that the two sides adopt its operating method, which requires fishing boats to set their lines in a north-south direction and to maintain a four-nautical-mile distance between them.

The Taiwanese side, which has more fishing boats operating in the area, advocated keeping its traditional approach, which is to deploy lines in an east-west direction and maintain a one-nautical-mile distance between boats.

The Taiwan-Japan fishing commission was established as part of an agreement signed April 10 by Taiwan and Japan on fishing rights in waters in the East China Sea near the disputed Diaoyutai Islands, known as the Senkakus in Japan.

The first meeting of the commission took place May 7 in Taipei.

Under the terms of the agreement, Taiwanese and Japanese boats can operate freely in a 74,300-square-kilometer area around the Diaoyutais, Taiwan's Fisheries Agency said.

That gives Taiwanese fishermen an additional 4,530 square kilometers in which they can operate free of harassment by the Japanese authorities, the agency said.

The Diaoyutais, some 100 nautical miles northeast of Taiwan, have been under Japan's administrative control since 1972 but are also claimed by Taiwan and China.

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Fisheries committee members from Taiwan and Japan meet, yesterday. The agenda of the fisheries committee meeting will focus on fishing rights and practices around the Diaoyutai Islands, a contentious area claimed by Taiwan, Japan and China. (CNA)

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