The Ocean Affairs Council, joined by the Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association (JTEA), the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), and the Australian Office Taipei (AOT) kicked off a hybrid Global Cooperation and Training Framework (GCTF) workshop entitled Sustainable Oceans based on the Rule of Law on October 26. This was the first GCTF event held in Tokyo since its launch in 2015. ROC (Taiwan) representative to Japan Frank Hsieh and JTEA President Yasuaki Tanizaki attended the opening ceremony and delivered remarks, while AIT Director Sandra Oudkirk and AOT Representative Jenny Bloomfield provided recorded remarks in the event. The co-hosts reaffirmed their continued commitments to deepening cooperation in areas of maritime law enforcement and marine environmental protection under this framework.
In his remarks, Representative Hsieh stated "The sea connects us all. Maritime disasters respect no boundaries. We must work together to deliver solutions to key issues such as transnational crime, threats to freedom of navigation, and any unilateral attempts to change the status quo that seek to challenge the international order. It is our shared responsibility to build a more peaceful and more stable international community with more abundant natural resources for generations to come. We hope this program can foster networking that enables us to know each other better."
An interagency delegation including representatives and experts from the OAC and the MOFA traveled to Tokyo to engage with officials and experts from Southeast Asia and Oceania. The opening session featured National Academy of Marine Research (NAMR) President Jiahn-Horng Chen as one of the two keynote speakers. President Chen delivered an address on Environmental Impact Assessment on Huge Sea Sand Dredging, focusing on how illegal sea sand mining can pose a threat to the marine ecosystem and put immense pressure on benthic communities, as well as the measures proposed by UNEP that we can take to avert this crisis. President Chen also pointed out the current study and future trajectory of a survey project conducted by NAMR in which scientific data has been used to monitor the ocean's health. His speech aims to raise global awareness of this critical issue and contribute to sustainable management of the marine environment and marine resources.
Over 200 officials, experts, and participants from 20 countries took part in this event both in person and online. Expert panelists from Taiwan, Japan, the U.S., and Australia provided substantive presentations on topics related to marine environmental protection, search and rescue at sea, and maritime law enforcement, as well as shared best practices of how to cooperate with the international community. Their respective experiences highlight the core value of upholding a rules-based international order at sea and the shared goal to advance a free and open Indo-Pacific. This discussion also reflects the importance of continued efforts in international partnerships to accelerate the realization of a healthier marine ecosystem and a more secure maritime order in the future.