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  • Fishermen want government to have teeth in dealing with Japan

    Taipei, March 5 (CNA) The Su’ao Fishery Association urged the government Monday to have teeth when dealing with Japan to protect Taiwan’s fishermen.

    The association issued the demand following an incident in which a local fishing boat was chased and subjected to water-cannon fire by Japanese patrol vessels in waters near Su’ao in Yilan County, northeastern Taiwan.

    Tseng Tai-shan (曾泰山), chairman of the association, told CNA that the Taiwanese recreational fishing vessel did not intrude into Japan’s territorial waters and accused the Japanese side of going too far in its reaction.

    "We hope that the government will be tough this time in dealing with Japan in order to ensure the interests of Taiwanese fishing boats."

    His remarks came after the Taiwanese recreational fishing boat Tung Pan Chiu No. 28 was expelled by a Japanese patrol vessel from waters near an area labeled the "Black Ditch" located between Yilan and Japan’s Yonaguni Island, while operating there early Sunday.

    The Black Ditch, located some 150 kilometers from Yilan, is a hot spot for Taiwanese recreational fishing boats, where anglers can catch fish of high economic value, such as flame snapper.

    A man surnamed Wu, one of about a dozen anglers aboard the boat, told CNA that a Japanese Fisheries Agency vessel approached their boat shortly after they reached the Black Ditch at around 5 a.m. Sunday.

    The Japanese vessel first broadcast a warning telling them to leave and then attempted to board their ship, Wu said, adding that out of fear of being arrested by the Japanese authorities, the skipper of the Tung Pan Chiu No. 28 quickly left the area.

    However, the Japanese ship continued to chase the Tung Pan Chiu No. 28 for more than two hours and used water cannon to force them to stop until vessels of Taiwan’s Coast Guard Administration came to their rescue, he said.

    "We knew that Taiwanese fishing ships will be chased away or detained by Japan in waters near the Diayutai Islands. But it is hard to imagine that we could be treated this way even in waters near the Black Ditch," Wu said.

    The disputed Diaoyutai Islands (known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan), are claimed by Taiwan, China and Japan. The island group, located in the East China Sea, is 170 km northeast of Taiwan, compared with 170 km northwest of Japan’s Ishigaki Island and 330 km from China’s Fujian Province.

    The owner of the Tung Pan Chiu No. 28 told CNA that the Taiwanese ship did not enter "Japan’s territorial waters" and said Japan went too far in using such a hard-line method "within Taiwan’s territorial waters."

    The Tung Pan Chiu No. 28 has also been chased off by Japanese ships while operating in an area about 18.52 km outside the fishing zone specified in the 2013 Taiwan-Japan Fisheries Agreement.

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has lodged a serious protest with the Japanese authorities in Taipei and Tokyo against the way the incidents were handled.

    Taiwan’s Fisheries Agency has also launched an investigation into the case to find out if the boat was operating outside the fishing zone specified in the 2013 Taiwan-Japan Fisheries Agreement, it added.

    (By Worthy Shen and Flor Wang)