Coast guard to protect fishermen near Okinotori with patrol boats

The coast guard plans to dispatch patrol vessels during the upcoming fishing season to protect Taiwanese fishermen near the Okinotori atoll.

That was the world from coast guard head Lee Chung-wei on Wednesday. He was responding to lawmakers' questions at a meeting of the Legislature's Internal Administration Committee.

The issue of fishing rights in the waters around the Japanese atoll has become a thorn in Taiwan-Japan relations. Japan says that Okinotori is an island and claims an Exclusive Economic Zone in nearby waters. Taiwan's position is that Okinotori does not meet the definition of an island under international law, making the surrounding seas international waters.

Okinotori has been at the forefront of Taiwan-Japan ties since the Japanese coast guard detained a Taiwanese fishing boat in the area last year. After the incident, the government sent patrol boats to the area to protect Taiwanese fishing boats.

Coast Guard Director Lee Chung-wei told lawmakers that there are Taiwanese fishing boats active in the area every day. According to Lee, the coast guard will dispatch patrol boats to the area once again after this year's fishing season gets underway.

Source: Radio Taiwan International