Japanese, Taiwanese fishermen to talk fishing order near Senkakus

Japanese and Taiwanese fishermen will meet at a fishing port in northeastern Taiwan on Thursday to discuss fishing order in waters off a cluster of Taiwan-claimed, Japan-administered islands in the East China Sea.

The island's Fisheries Agency and Tokyo's de facto mission in Taiwan, the Interchange Association, announced on Wednesday that the second meeting between Taiwanese fishermen and their Japanese counterparts will take place at Suao, Yilan County, on Thursday.

Both sides agreed in May when they met for the first time in Okinawa's Naha that they would subsequently discuss fishing order in waters under a bilateral fisheries agreement signed in April this year.

Under the deal, Japan and Taiwan are to designate an area in Japan's exclusive economic zone as jointly managed waters where reciprocal fishing is allowed.

However, the jointly controlled zone excludes waters 12 nautical miles surrounding the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands, which Taiwan calls the Tiaoyutai Islands and which are known as the Diaoyu Islands in China.

Both sides also agreed on the establishment of a "special cooperation zone" where each party applies management or measures to its own nationals and fishing vessels.

There are three other areas outside of Taiwan's "temporary law enforcement line" that Taiwanese fishing trawlers can operate under the agreement.

In addition, they agreed to set up a joint fishing committee to continue negotiating on issues they failed to agree upon, including fishing in waters surrounding the Senkaku Islands as well as waters near the Sakishima islands.

Nothing concrete emerged from the first meeting in May.

Since the fisheries pact was signed, Japan's Fisheries Agency has been under a tremendous amount of pressure from Japanese fishermen, particularly those from Okinawa.

While some have called on the Japanese government to reduce the size of the agreed-upon area, others have complained that the pact failed to take their interests into account, saying Taiwanese trawlers have more waters to operate in and should therefore stay away from the areas covered by the agreement until new sets of fishing rules are established.

A Foreign Ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity told Kyodo News that Japanese fishermen are more concerned about the fishing order in the "special cooperation zone" where the fishery resources are comparatively richer.