The first Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum (EAMF) opened on October 5 in Manila, the Philippines, with the first session focusing on strengthening regional maritime links, upgrading infrastructures and equipment and training for seamen.

The forum was chaired by the host country’s Foreign Affairs Undersecretary, Erlinda Basilio.

Addressing the event, Japan ’s Deputy Foreign Minister Koji Tsuruoka underlined the need to set up an effective maritime order in East Asia to ensure rights of navigation in a threat-free, safe maritime environment.

According to Tsuruoka, it is necessary to exert more effort to make maritime order and regulations basing on specific characteristics of each area, suitable to related international laws, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, through peaceful dialogues.

The EAMF should look at ways to strengthen mechanisms so as to prevent and settle disputes at sea, which can also apply to fish stocks to avoid overfishing that has a detrimental effect on the ecosystem and maritime environment, he said.

The forum, which was initiated by Japan during the East Asia Summit in Indonesia last year, allows Japan , China , the US and other ASEAN partners to attend the ASEAN Maritime Forum.

It attracts government officials, specialists, academics and non-governmental organisations to discuss maritime issues including piracy and human trafficking. The forum also looks at ways to protect the maritime environment and promote tourism and fish farming in East Asia .

Earlier on October 4, senior ASEAN officials attended the third ASEAN Maritime Forum (AMF 3), which also took place in Manila and focused on ways to step up maritime cooperation and security in the region.-VNA