According Taiwan Fisheries Agency, the The Council of Agriculture (COA) has responded to the concerns of fishermen following the ruling made on the 12th of July by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague on the South China Sea arbitration that had been requested by the Philippines in 2013.
Taiwanese fishermen have ben concerned about their fishing rights in the South China Sea, in particular around the Taiwan-controlled Ita Aba Island, otherwise known as Taiping Island in the Spratly Islands. Some fishermen had called for people to go ashore on the island to reinforce sovereignty and the COA confirmed that it would co-ordinate with the Coast Guard Administration to send patrol boats to strengthen patrolling and to protect fishermen’s fishing interests in the South China Sea waters.
According to the COA, at present, no claimant country had drawn baselines for delimiting territorial waters in respect of the islands in the South China Sea, with respect to a 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Taiwan-controlled Taiping Island is one of the South China Sea islands that is capable of supporting 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 ruling and would definitely defend fishermen’s interests in the South China Sea.
The COA added that fishing vessels operating in the waters off Taiping Island is a specific practice for the declaration of sovereignty over the Taiping Island and the sovereign right of its EEZ. In safeguarding fishermen’s legitimate fishing rights, the COA asked the Coast Guard Administration to increase its patrols to preserve Taiwan’s fishing ground in the South China Sea and to ensure the operational safety of fishermen.
With respect to the request for fishermen to go ashore on Taiping Island, the COA pointed out that Taiping Island is in a military restricted area, and fishermen should complete the application process in advance according to the relevant regulations. The COA reminds Taiwanese fishing vessels facing any abnormal situations such as being pursued by foreign public service vessels to immediately report to the relevant units, such as the Coast Guard Administration and the Fisheries Agency.