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Philippines mulls fisheries deal with Taiwan amid sea row

Philippines mulls fisheries deal with Taiwan amid sea row

The draft agreement was prepared by the trade representatives of the two parties, which have no formal diplomatic relations.



By (AFP)

Published: Wed 17 Jun 2015, 2:51 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 2:58 PM

Manila — The Philippines said on Wednesday it was studying a draft fisheries agreement with Taiwan as tensions in rich border fishing grounds re-emerged two years after the Filipino coast guard shot dead a Taiwanese fisherman.

While the proposed deal will not define borders, it will set protocols on the arrest and detention of fishermen, Philippine foreign affairs spokesman Charles Jose said.

“The mechanism will provide guidelines for incidents at sea,” Jose told a news conference.

“It will not be an agreement on maritime boundary delimitations.”

The draft agreement was prepared by the trade representatives of the two parties, which have no formal diplomatic relations.

Manila recognises Taipei’s rival Beijing, which considers Taiwan its province.

Fisheries-related scrapes between the two Asian neighbours have hotted up in recent months.

A Filipino coastguard ship attempted to arrest a Taiwanese fishing vessel off the Batan island group last month, but the Taiwan coastguard intervened, resulting in a four-hour standoff.

Manila broadcaster ABS-CBN aired on Wednesday footage of a June 6 standoff between Filipino and Taiwanese coast guard ships, which ended with the Taiwanese vessel turning back after a tense exchange of radio messages.

These incidents recalled the 2013 fatal shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman by Filipino authorities in the same area.

Philippine authorities filed homicide charges against eight of their coast guard men over the death of the 65-year-old Taiwanese fisherman in May 2013. A local court is hearing the case.

The coastguard men said they opened fire after the fishing vessel tried to ram them, but Taiwan called the shooting “cold-blooded” murder and imposed economic sanctions on Manila.

Jose acknowledged a “huge overlapping” of the exclusive economic zones on the Philippines’ northern waters and waters off Taiwan’s southern end.

President Benigno Aquino’s office is reviewing the proposed fishing agreement and will decide within the year whether or not to sign it, Jose said.

“With this agreement, we hope to talk about (sea incidents) in an easier manner,” he said.

 


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