Go TO Content
Two-year old Taiwan-Japan Fisheries Agreement reaps great rewards
April 11, 2015
No. 065

Signed on April 10, 2013, the Taiwan-Japan Fisheries Agreement has created an appropriate arrangement for handling fisheries issues stemming from overlapping exclusive economic zones, while safeguarding ROC sovereignty over the Diaoyutai Islands and national interests in nearby sea waters. The agreement embodies the East China Sea Peace Initiative ideals of sovereignty cannot be divided, but natural resources can be shared. As such, the agreement not only has resolved long-term fishery disputes between the two countries, but also has further ensured peace in the region. At the same time, it has highlighted the ROC government’s role as a peacemaker and responsible stakeholder, earning accolades throughout the international community.

The agreement is applicable to the sea waters surrounding the Diaoyutai Islands, which appertain to Taiwan and have long been used by Taiwanese fishing vessels. The area affected spans 74,000 square kilometers—more than twice the size of Taiwan. Within the area, Japanese government vessels may not interfere with the operations of ROC fishing boats, letting the fishermen work undisturbed and securing their interests. In the year leading up to the signing of the agreement, there were 17 incidents in the area involving ships of the two sides, but not one since the instrument’s signing, bearing testimony that order has been established.

The two sides also have established the Taiwan-Japan Fishery Committee in accordance with the agreement. This consultation mechanism has spurred bilateral cooperation on various items of mutual interest, making the committee an indispensible communication platform. For instance, it set in place pertinent operational regulations in January 2014 and updated them this March, taking into account day and night shifts, operations at different times and in different zones, and the needs of small fishing vessels. This has made fishing operations more convenient and has reduced disputes, thus fostering friendship and collaboration between the two sides. The committee will continue to discuss nearby areas still in dispute. Until consensus on them is reached, the government will continue to protect ROC fishing boats and their interests in these areas.

Taiwan and Japan entered negotiations based on the ideals of the East China Sea Peace Initiative. By setting aside sovereignty issues and seeking consensus on just fishing issues, the two have reduced the scope of the dispute and have resolved related issues step by step. The results have proven that this approach is extremely effective, setting an unprecedented example, resolving long-standing bilateral fishing issues, and boosting relations between the two countries, which are now at their best in 40 years. The ROC government will continue to strive to strengthen its consultations with parties concerned in order to better contribute to the stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region. (E)