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Japan-Taiwan fishing pact comes into force


Japan and Taiwan have completed legal procedures to enforce a bilateral fishery agreement, concluded in April, that allows Taiwanese fishing boats to operate in Japan's 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone near the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea from Friday, Japanese government officials said.

Japan's Fisheries Agency, an arm of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, has sent fishery patrol boats to the waters to keep watch on Taiwanese fishing boats in the waters.

No reports of trouble have so far been filed with Taiwanese or Japanese authorities, the officials said.

On April 10 in Taipei, Japan and Taiwan signed the agreement which designates an area in Japan's EEZ as jointly managed waters.

Tuna fishing has reached its peak season in the waters around the Senkaku Islands, which both China and Taiwan claim, calling the islets Diaoyu and Tiaoyutai, respectively.

In its Friday edition, the United Daily News, a major Taiwanese daily, reported that Taiwan's fisheries cooperative association urged Taiwanese fishermen not to cause troubles with their Japanese counterparts.

Some Japanese tuna fishing boats headed for waters south of Ishigaki Island to avoid trouble with Taiwanese vessels in waters north of the island, which is covered by the Japan-Taiwan fishery pact, according to the Yaeyama fishing cooperative, which is based in the city of Ishigaki, Okinawa Prefecture.

Yoshimasa Hayashi, minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, told the day's news conference that the Fisheries Agency will deploy many fishery surveillance ships to the waters covered by the bilateral pact and tighten controls on any illegal fishing there.

In Naha, Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima reiterated his opposition to the bilateral fishery pact, saying he believed Japan and Taiwan neglected Okinawa's fishermen in concluding it.

The Fisheries Agency said it has doubled the number of its fishery patrol boats to 10 to keep watch on foreign fishing boats.

Under the pact, Japan allows Taiwanese fishing vessels to operate in its EEZ. Japan and Taiwan are expected to convene a bilateral panel later this year to compile detailed rules for fishing operation in Japan's EEZ, government sources said.

The Senkaku Islands are a group of uninhabited islets. Japan says the islets are part of the city of Ishigaki in the southernmost island prefecture of Okinawa.

China has repeatedly sent maritime surveillance vessels into Japanese waters around the islets, leading to tense standoffs with Japanese Coast Guard vessels patrolling the waters.