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Taiwan-Philippines fishery talks stuck on contiguous zone issue

2015/10/07 23:14:40

CNA file photo

Taipei, Oct. 7 (CNA) The negotiations on a fishery agreement between Taiwan and the Philippines has snagged on issues related to a contiguous zone, but the two sides have agreed that force should not be used in the event of disputes, an official in Taiwan's Fisheries Agency said Wednesday.

Deputy Director-General Huang Hung-yan (黃鴻燕) of the Fisheries Agency said the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea sets the limits of territorial waters and exclusive economic zones (EEZs), but the Philippine authorities are claiming unilaterally that based on the convention on the territorial sea and the contiguous zone of 1958, Philippine coastal patrols have the legal right to board Taiwanese fishing boats operating in a zone of the high seas contiguous to its territorial seas.

Territorial waters are defined in the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea as a belt of coastal waters extending at most 12 nautical miles from the baseline of a coastal state.

As to the contiguous zone, it is a further 12 nautical miles beyond the 12-nautical mile territorial waters, according to the U.N. Convention.

The source said Taiwanese fishing boats entering the territorial waters of another state must fly the national flag, although fishing is not allowed.

On the other hand, fishing boats are allowed to operate in EEZs, the zone extending from the edge of the 12-nautical mile territorial waters to a range of 188 nautical miles, the source said.

The Philippines is advocating an EEZ 24 nautical miles from the baseline, which conflicts with existing practices, said Huang, adding that the two sides will continue to negotiate in the hope of achieving a breakthrough by the end of the year.

(By S.M. Yang and Lillian Lin)
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