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Fisheries Associations Appeal to Quell Disputes

Presidents of fishery associations of China, the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and Japan have signed a proposal to solve fishing disputes and marine emergencies peacefully. The signing took place in Beijing on Thursday at a ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of the China Fisheries Association (CFA).

Qi Jingfa, head of the China Fisheries Association, said the association had entered into agreements with South Korean and Japanese organizations to handle accidents and rifts through consultation and coordination.

Nongovernmental organizations, rather than government departments, usually head efforts to end spats and skirmishes between the fleets that operate in the East China and Yellow seas, said Ma Weijun, an official with the Ministry of Agriculture's Fisheries Bureau.

Over the past few years, the implementation of pacts between China and its neighbors, including South Korea, Japan and Vietnam, has prompted thousands of Chinese fishing boats to withdraw from traditional fishing grounds, according to the ministry.

Even when fleets strictly honor the pacts, marine accidents and disputes between the different countries are inevitable when winds and currents are factored in, according to a ministry statement.

Officials did not provide the number of fishing disputes between China and neighbors South Korea and Japan.

To maintain order at sea and minimize disputes, the proposal signed on Thursday asks fishermen to respect each other and abide by fishing pacts while fulfilling their duty to conserve aquatic resources and observe environmental protection statutes.

When disputes do occur, if they cannot be resolved immediately the parties concerned should turn to civilian organizations for consultation and resolution, according to the proposal.

It also says that the three fisheries associations should strengthen exchanges and draft a manual to improve communications.

(China Daily December 10, 2004)

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