PH, Taiwan sign pact to resolve disputes in overlapping sea territories
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines and Taiwan have signed the much-awaited fisheries pact aimed at reducing disputes in the two’s overlapping territorial waters.
The announcement on Thursday came with the Philippines hosting the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Manila.
In a statement, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) said the two governments concluded the Agreement Concerning the Facilitation of Cooperation on Law Enforcement in Fisheries Matters on November 5.
“The pact is expected to effectively reduce fisheries disputes in the two countries’ overlapping exclusive economic zones and protect the rights and interests of Taiwan fishermen operating legally,” TECO said.
It was signed in Taipei by Representative Gary Song-huann Lin of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines and Representative Antonio I. Basilio of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office in Taiwan.
Following the signing, the two sides convened the first Technical Working Group meeting the same day.
A consensus was reached on two mechanisms－a one-hour advance notification to the other party and release of detained vessels and crew within three days.
The accord and exchange of notes will be announced after both sides complete their respective domestic administrative procedures, according to the TECO.
Under the agreement, before law enforcement action is taken against a fishing vessel from the other party believed to be operating illegally in the overlapping EEZs, a one-hour advance notification will be given to the fisheries and coast guard agencies, as well as representative office, of the other party.
If the vessel is found to have violated the law and subsequently detained, it will be released within three days after posting reasonable bond, other security, or payment consistent with the law of the arresting party.
“The agreement upholds the spirit and principles of President Ma Ying-jeou’s South China Sea Peace Initiative, which calls for shelving disputes, pursuing peace and reciprocity, and promoting joint exploration and development of resources,” the TECO said.
The agreement was a result of the negotiations between the two governments following the shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman by the members of the Philippine Coast Guard at the Balintang Channel on May 9, 2013
“(The accord) is meant to prevent any further such incidents,” the TECO said.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Fisheries Agency, and Coast Guard Administration will continue to hold consultations with related Philippine government agencies through the cooperation mechanism established under this accord,” it said. SFM
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