Five Coast Guard Administration (CGA) officers who boarded a Chinese fishing boat to investigate its unauthorized entry into Taiwanese waters, but were carried away by the boat, were rescued by fellow officers on Saturday evening and arrived in Keelung yesterday morning.
The Chinese boat and its crew have also been brought to Keelung, where the nine fishermen are in custody awaiting investigation.
Maritime Patrol Directorate General Vice Director Pan Chin-chia (潘進家) told a press conference yesterday that the incident took place on Saturday morning after a Taiwanese fishing boat reported to the coast guard at 11:30am that its fishing nets were entangled with those of a Chinese fishing boat 17 nautical miles (31.5km) northeast of Pengjia Islet (彭佳嶼).
Pan said the administration sent a boat with 15 officers to deal with the incident.
He said the CGA vessel reached the spot at 2pm and asked the Chinese vessel that crossed into Taiwanese waters to turn off its engine to allow CGA officers to check the vessel.
The Chinese vessel refused to stop, Pan said, adding that five CGA officers, armed with sticks and electroshock devices, boarded the vessel.
According to Pan, the Chinese captain, surnamed Xu (徐), said: “We will be fined if caught” and threatened to jump into the sea.
Instead of obeying the coast guard officers’ orders to go with them to Keelung to resolve the dispute, the captain turned on the boat’s automatic navigation system and steered northeastward in an attempt to flee to China, Pan said.
Pan said at that time three coast guard officers contained six fishermen in one cabin, one detained another two in the boat’s bridge, while one stayed with the captain.
Because the boat was still moving and they were unable to stop the engine, the officers asked fellow coast guard personnel on the patrol boat for help, prompting a chase, and called in five other patrol boats for support.
The coast guard intercepted the Chinese boat about 40 nautical miles northeast of Pengjia and escorted it to Keelung after seven other CGA officers boarded the boat.
The crew of the Zhelingyu 69088 will face a fine of NT$250,000 for unauthorized entry into Taiwanese waters, said Chen Sih-chuan (陳泗川), head of the coast guard unit in Keelung.
The CGA also plans to refer the case to prosecutors for investigation into whether the Chinese crew obstructed law enforcement operations when the boat sped away with the Taiwanese officers still on board, he said.
According to CGA officers, Chinese fishermen sometimes employ various tricks to prevent officers from boarding and checking their boats when found illegally operating in Taiwanese waters.
The tricks include creating a disturbance or threatening to commit suicide, while some turn off power or stop their oil supply to pretend the vessels are out of order.
Additional reporting by Lin Chia-tung and CNA