Challenges and opportunities for fishery rights negotiations in disputed waters - A Taiwanese perspective regarding a fishing boat case incident
2019 Elsevier Ltd Maritime and territorial disputes have created tension among States bordering the South China Sea for decades. Such problems are exacerbated for Taiwan because of its special political status. Further, because it is not a party to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Taiwan cannot refer to that treaty to resolve disputes. A tense and tragic incident that illustrates the challenge for resolving maritime disputes that involve Taiwan is the 2013 Guang Da Xsing No. 28 conflict in which a Taiwanese fisherman was killed by shots fired from a Philippine maritime enforcement vessel. Taiwan demanded that the Philippines officially apologize, take appropriate compensatory and punitive actions, and negotiate to prevent future incidents. However, little information has been made public about what was achieved. Taiwan subsequently invoked a series of sanctions against the Philippines. This created the opportunity for both sides to negotiate and establish a liaison officer mechanism to facilitate early resolution of future incidents. After several rounds of negotiations over the past few years, Taiwan and the Philippines concluded the Agreement Concerning the Facilitation of Cooperation on Law Enforcement in Fisheries. The intention of this Agreement is to achieve safety and mutual benefits and to avoid damage to the bilateral relationship between the parties. This is a pragmatic and diplomatic approach to resolve disputes outside of, but in the spirit of, UNCLOS. This paper examines the incident in question, and the subsequent Taiwan-Philippines agreement on cooperation in fisheries law enforcement in disputed waters.