Taiwan rejects N. Korea fishing deal offer

Taiwan rejects N. Korea fishing deal offer

TAIPEI, May 4 Kyodo Taiwan’s fishing industry has rejected an offer by North Korea for a deal that would give Taiwanese fishing cooperatives access to North Korean fishing grounds in return for fuel and technical support for North Korea’s idled fishing fleets, industry officials said Tuesday.

The conditions offered by the North Korean side were not lucrative enough to entice the Taiwanese side, said Yang Tsung-chi, head of a Taipei-based fishing boat insurance company.

Yang confirmed local media reports which said a memorandum of understanding had been signed by him and three other fisheries industry representatives in Pyongyang in mid-January on possible cooperation.

But Yang told Kyodo News that nothing materialized from the plan. During their weeklong fact-finding trip, the Taiwanese representatives, who were accompanied by a Taiwan Foreign Ministry official, toured fisheries facilities in North Korea which they found backward and not up to their standards.

Yue Meng-chu, general manager of the Keelung Fishermen’s Association, said the North Koreans wanted the Taiwan side to provide fuel to some of its idled fishing fleets, to supply fishing equipment and to lease North Korean vessels to fish off the North Korean coast and explore for other fishing grounds.

They also hoped that the Taiwanese would enlist North Korean crews and transfer know-how on how to farm kelp.

The catches would be split equally between the two sides, according to the plan.

Yue said the Taiwan side had been eager that a number of its fishing boats be given access to North Korean fishing grounds. Such an arrangement would have been modeled on existing agreements with Indonesia.

He said the association estimated that an investment of 20-30 million New Taiwan dollars (about 620,000-900,000 U.S. dollars) would be necessary to satisfy the North Korean demands.

Yue said that after their return to Taiwan, the group members decided that the investment was not worth the effort, given that the varieties of cod common in North Korea’s waters tend to sell at low prices.

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