Taiwan and Japan In Dispute Over Fishing Grounds

Taiwan and Japan In Dispute Over Fishing Grounds
Photo Credit: Reuters/達志影像
What you need to know

After Taiwan and Japan signed the “Taiwan-Japan Fisheries Agreement” in 2013, there have been disputes and complaints from fishermen from both sides. Recently, local fishery groups in Japan have asked the Taiwan-Japan fishing area to be narrowed, raising strong protest from the Suao Fishermen’s Association.

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Translated by Shin-wei Chang

In April of 2013, Taiwan and Japan signed the “Taiwan-Japan Fisheries Agreement,” allowing both Japanese and Taiwanese fishermen to do fishing in the area near the Diaoyutai Islands (Senkaku Islands). However, fishermen in Okinawa, Japan, have been asking Maritime area subject to the Taiwan-Japan Fisheries Agreement (Taiwan-Japan Area) to be narrowed, which has irritated Taiwanese fishermen.

James Sha, deputy minister of the Council for Agriculture, says that both sides were not satisfied with the agreement back in 2013. As a result, they hold annual preparation meetings to negotiate with the Fisheries Committee. By doing this, they hope to gradually bridge the gap between two sides. Sha says this is not the first time for any fishermen to comment on the agreement and there is always room for improvement. However, the two have agreed not to unilaterally reveal their opinions to the public before they reach a consensus.

Sha emphasized, the reason for the strong reaction of the Suao Fishermen’s Association was the Japanese fishermen asked to change the already-signed agreement. Fisheries Agency of the Council of Agriculture says the area the Japanese Fishermen’s Association asked to reduce is where most Bluefin Tuna live. Most of the fishermen of Suao Fishermen’s Association fish in the area, so it would cause huge impact to the fishermen if the agreement were changed.

The way Japanese fishermen fish is very different from how the Taiwanese fish for the former is used having more space to fish. As a result, local fishermen in Ryukyu complain the Taiwanese fishermen are taking up all the waters. The directions the fishing nets are cast are also different for both sides. Disputes are often raised if one side casts west and the other east, which tangles up the nets.

Taiwan and Japan are to hold a “Taiwan-Japan Fisheries Committee” to negotiate. Taiwan believes that both sides will strive for elaborating regulations to ensure the safety of fishing boats when conducting fishing operations and avoid disputes over fishing operations.

Chang San-cheng, the minister of the Executive Yuan, reaffirmed that the Diaoyutai Islands has always been a fixed territory of the Republic of China (R.O.C), and the government has always held a consistent position. It will affirm its position of “safeguarding sovereignty, shelving disputes, pursuing peace and reciprocity, and promoting joint exploration and development” to continue the negotiation with Japan.

Edited by Olivia Yang

Sources:
CNA
China Times
Udn News
“Taiwan-Japan Fisheries Agreement" (Council of Agriculture)
“MOFA vow to defend fishing rights" (Taipei Times)