No signing in sight for Taiwan-Philippines fisheries pact: Report

No signing in sight for Taiwan-Philippines fisheries pact: Report
Motorists ride past fishing boats tied up at Partouze Harbour in Keelung as Typhoon Chan-hom approaches off the northeast coast of Taiwan on July 9, 2015.

TAIPEI - There is still no signing date on the horizon for Taiwan's fisheries pact with the Philippines, despite two years of talks and claims that the agreement has reached final review, Chinese-language media reported yesterday.

"At present, there is no timetable for the signing of the agreement," the United Evening News reported yesterday, citing an unnamed source closed to the negotiations.

Since 2013, the two governments have been negotiating an agreement on law enforcement co-operation on fishing matters in their overlapping economic waters.

Talks opened in 2013 and have since been managed by three different negotiation teams, according to the United Evening News.

Last December, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said that the draft had reached final review and could be signed by April before the fishing season begins.

Declined Request

During the negotiation process, the Philippines rejected a request that Taiwan fishing boats be allowed to enter waters between 24 and 12 nautical miles beyond the Philippines coast, according to the United Evening News.

Taiwan negotiators have gone to the Philippines twice this year, the report stated.

In mid-June, Taiwan cited international law and common regulations on exclusive economic zones to argue that that each country open up fishing rights between 12 to 24 nautical miles off its coast.

The negotiating team from the Philippines turned down the request, countering that it "won't negotiate with a non-sovereign state," according to the United Evening News.

'Blank ammunition'

On several occasions in the past, Philippines negotiators have used the argument that Taiwan is a non-sovereign state during the bargaining process, according to the United Evening News.

The report said sources believe that the fisheries pact has been revised to the point of ineffectiveness and would be a piece of "blank ammunition" if signed in its present form.

Both Sides Eye Signing: MOFA

Taiwan's Foreign Ministry said yesterday that both Taiwan and the Philippines hope to sign the pact as soon as possible.

MOFA spokeswoman Anna Kao told local media yesterday that Taiwan and the Philippines are both eager to sign the bilateral fisheries agreement as soon as possible.

The two sides have established a task force to reach consensus on each side's concerns via peaceful dialogue, she said.

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