In a bid to resolve disputes between the Philippines and Taiwan within their overlapping exclusive economic zones in the West Philippine Sea, the two countries have concluded the “Agreement Concerning the Facilitation of Cooperation on Law Enforcement in Fisheries.”
The pact was signed by Antonio I. Basilio of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei and Gary Song-huann Lin of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines last Nov. 5.
Following the signing, the two sides convened the first Technical Working Group meeting the same day.
The agreement was reached mainly to protect the rights and interests of Taiwanese fishermen operating legally and prevent incidents involving Philippine authorities and Taiwan fishermen.
It resulted from negotiations in the aftermath of the tragic incident involving the Philippine Coast Guard patrol boat Maritime Control Surveillance 3001 and Taiwan fishing boat Guang Da Xing No. 28 in May 2013—which led to the death of Taiwanese fisherman Hung Shih-cheng.
The incident occurred in the high seas, within the overlapping EEZs of the neighboring countries.
The agreement calls for the implementation of two mechanisms —a one-hour advance notification to the other party and the release of detained vessels and crew within three days.
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 the 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 or other security, or payment consistent with the law of the arresting party.
Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou proclaimed that the agreement upholds the spirit and principles of the South China Sea Peace Initiative, which calls for shelving disputes, pursuing peace and reciprocity, and promoting joint exploration and development of resources.
The accord and exchange of notes will be announced after both sides have completed their respective domestic administrative procedures.