Japan and Taiwan agree to revised fishing regulations in area north of Yaeyama Islands for spring trial period


March 18, 2018 Ryukyu Shimpo



Representatives from Japan and Taiwan met at a joint committee on fisheries March 15-16 in Taipei to discuss regulations for 2018 including fishing rights in the area near the Senkaku Islands as part of the Japan-Taiwan Fisheries Agreement. The two sides agreed to amend regulations in the inverted triangle zone north of the Yaeyama Islands, a prime fishing spot for tuna, and to increase the distance between fishing vessels to four miles. The new regulations will go into effect for a trial period starting in April and running through July.


The region that regulations allow for Japanese fishing boats to use within the triangle zone is from 123 degrees east longitude westward, 124 degrees east longitude eastward, and 25 degrees 15 minutes north latitude south. The regulation stipulating four miles of space between fishing boats is a safety regulation to prevent damage to fishing equipment such as fishing lines tangling.


Lines can be cast once per day per ship. It was also agreed that lines will be cast northward from the ship, casting can start at 5:00 a.m. onwards, and ships should begin taking in their lines at noon and wrap things up quickly.


When a Taiwanese fishing vessel operates within the zone demarcated for Japanese vessels, the ship must notify the operating Japanese vessels in the area beforehand, and must confirm that they can operate in the area.


The area within the triangle zone between 123 and 124 degrees ease longitude is the zone for Taiwanese fishing vessels, and a distance between ships was clarified as one knot (about 1.8 km).


Previously, part of the triangle zone was shared by both sides, with Taiwanese vessels operating at night and Japanese vessels operating during the day, however the times for each sides overlapped and there were concerns of lines becoming entangled, creating an uncomfortable situation for Japanese fishing boats.


In the “special cooperative zone” off the west coast of Kume Island, regulations agreed upon by both sides allowed for the region to be divided and for fishing vessels to operate without trouble. The hope is that the similar rules agreed upon for the triangular region north of the Yaeyama Islands will allow fishing vessels to operate safely in the area.


Kameich Uehara, president of the Okinawa Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Association, commented on the summit, saying, “The region is smaller than what we had originally hoped, however I am pleased that we were able to secure a region good for fishing where Japanese fishing vessels can operate safely. It is a step forward.”


This was the seventh time the committee has met, as regulations are reviewed each year prior to the start of the tuna fishing season.



(English translation by T&CT and Sam Grieb)


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