Tuesday, September 2, 2008

KL, S'pore Iron Out Differences On Pedra Branca Vicinity Fishing

Source : The Business Times, September 2, 2008

Both nations can do traditional fishing half a nautical mile off rocky outcrop

MALAYSIA and Singapore have agreed that traditional fishing by both countries will continue beyond 0.5 nautical mile off Pedra Branca, Middle Rocks and South Ledge.

The agreement came after Malaysia protested at Singapore wanting to claim an exclusive economic zone around Pedra Branca - a rocky outcrop east of Singapore, which the International Court of Justice awarded to Singapore in May.

A joint statement issued yesterday by Singapore and Malaysia said the second Malaysia-Singapore Joint Technical Committee (MSJTC) Meeting on the Implementation of the ICJ Judgment, which made the traditional fishing agreement on Aug 20, agreed also to set up a Sub-Committee on Maritime & Airspace Management and Fisheries. The sub-committee also met on Aug 20.

On Aug 18, Malaysia said it had given Singapore an 'official warning' over territorial claims surrounding South Ledge.

The move came a month after Singapore said its maritime territory around Pedra Branca extended for up to 12 nautical miles and claimed an exclusive zone around the island. That meant Malaysia would have limited access to the waters around Middle Rocks, which fall within the zone.

While the ICJ confirmed Singapore's ownership of Pedra Branca and handed nearby Middle Rocks to Malaysia, it ruled that South Ledge belongs to whoever owns the territorial waters it sits in.

Yesterday's joint statement said both sides at the Aug 20 meeting 'reiterated their commitment to honour and abide by the ICJ's judgment and fully implement its decision by continuing the discussions pursuant to the previous MSJTC Meeting' on June 3.

According to the joint statement, the Aug 20 meeting reviewed the work of the Sub-Committee on Joint Survey Works and agreed the sub-committee should continue talks to finalise technical preparations relating to a joint hydrographic survey.

It was also agreed that the Sub-Committee on Maritime & Airspace Management and Fisheries continue to discuss other issues relating to maritime and airspace management.

Both sides are 'very pleased with the progress' made by MSJTC and agreed that it meet again in the middle of this month.

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