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Taiwan, Japan set for new round of fisheries talks

TAIPEI -- Taiwan and Japan will renew efforts to address fishing regulations in their overlapping waters in the East China Sea during the third meeting of the two countries' joint fishery commission, an official said Wednesday.

The meeting is set to kick off Thursday in Taipei and could run into the following day, said Lo Koon-tsan, secretary-general of the Association of East Asian Relations, the Taiwanese body in charge of ties with Japan in the absence of formal diplomatic relations.

It is aimed at reconciling differences in fishing procedures in a designated area of the East China Sea where Taiwanese and Japanese fishermen are both allowed to operate freely, he said.

The meeting, which will be held at the GIS NTU Convention Center on the campus of National Taiwan University in Taipei, will be attended by officials from the two countries' foreign ministries and fishery and maritime law enforcement agencies.

Over the past eight months, officials and fishermen from the two sides have met to try to achieve a consensus on fishing regulations in the designated area.

Japanese fishermen have advocated their operating method, in which fishing boats to set their lines in a north-south direction and maintain a four-nautical-mile distance between each boat.

But Taiwanese fishermen, who work in the area in greater numbers, want to preserve their traditional approach of deploying lines in an east-west direction and maintaining a one-nautical-mile distance between boats.

The Taiwan-Japan fishing commission was established as part of an agreement signed on April 10, 2013 by the two countries on fishing rights in the East China Sea near the disputed Diaoyutai Islands, known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan.

The first meeting of the fishing commission took place in May 2013 in Taipei and the second was held on Dec. 26 in Tokyo.

Under the terms of the April agreement, Taiwanese and Japanese boats can operate freely in a 74,300-square-kilometer area around the uninhabited islets, Taiwan's Fisheries 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, which calls them the Diaoyu Islands.

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