Government Continues to Safeguard Fishermen’s Interests in the South China Sea
The Council of Agriculture (COA) expressed the award made on July 12, 2016 by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands, on the matter of “the South China Sea arbi-tration” requested by the Philippines in 2013, ruling the Taiwan-controlled Itu Aba Island (Taiping Island) in the Spratly Islands as a “rock” raised concern of the Taiwan’s fishermen about the af-fect of the award on their fishing rights in the South China Sea waters. On July 20, some fishermen called their fellow fishing vessels to go ashore the Taiping Island for declaring its sovereign-ty. The COA stressed that it coordinated with the Coast Guard Administration to send patrol boats to strengthen patrolling, in order to protect fishermen’s fishing interests in the South China Sea waters.
The COA said that at present, no claimant country had drawn baselines for delimiting the territorial sea in respect of the is-lands in the South China Sea, for advocating the 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Taiwan-controlled Taiping Is-land is one among all islands in the South China Sea that is able to sustain human habitation, which fully conforms to Paragraph 3 of Article 121 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The government of Taiwan, therefore, would never accept the aforementioned award and definitely defend fishermen’s fish-ing interests in the South China Sea.
The COA added that the fishing vessels proceeding to operate in the waters of the Taiping Island is a specific practice for the declaration of sovereignty over the Taiping Island and the sover-eign right of its EEZ. In safeguarding fishermen’s legitimate fish-ing rights, the COA asked the Coast Guard Administration to strengthen its patrolling to preserve Taiwan’s fishing ground in the South China Sea and to ensure the operational safety of fish-ermen.
Regarding the act of fishermen in calling their fellow fisher-men to go ashore the Taiping Island on July 20 for the declaration of its sovereignty, the COA fully understood their viewpoints. However, the Taiping Island is in a military restricted area, and fishermen should complete the application process in advance ac-cording to the relevant regulations. The COA reminded Taiwan fishing vessels facing any abnormal situations such as being pur-sued by foreign public service vessels, while operating in the wa-ters mentioned above, to immediately report to the relevant units, such as the fishery communication radio station, the Coast Guard Administration and the Fisheries Agency.