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Tue, Jan 11, 2000 - Page 2 News List

Chinese fishing boats nabbed for smuggling, poaching

CNA , PUTAI, CHIAYI COUNTY

More than 10 Chinese fishing boats were seized by maritime police early yesterday morning off the coast of Putai in western Chiayi County, marking the first such incident along the Chiayi coastline, police said yesterday.

The incident coincided with a smuggling operation bust on Kinmen Island, police said.

The group of Chinese vessels was spotted fishing illegally around 10 nautical miles off the coast of Putai township early yesterday morning.

Defying loudspeaker warnings by maritime police, the boats continued their poaching activities. Police, in four patrol boats, then approached two of the fishing vessels and escorted them to the port at Putai for investigation.

Under the Statute Governing Relations Between People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area, maritime police confiscated the vessels' fishing gear and 450kg of fish that they had caught.

The boats and 22 crew members were expelled after the police investigations were completed.

Chinese fishing boats have in the past been found converging, probably for poaching activities, in waters near the Penghu Islands and off the east coast of Taiwan.

The incident marked the first time that Chinese fishing boats were discovered grouping off the coast of Chiayi County, a spokesman for the maritime police said yesterday.

A huge haul of smuggled Chinese commodities, along with 25 Chinese men and three Taiwan-made motorbikes, were also discovered by Kinmen police on board two Chinese fishing boats yesterday.

Acting on a tip-off, Kinmen maritime police, in cooperation with Kinmen regional police, raided two Chinese fishing boats in waters about half a nautical mile north of Kinmen late Sunday night, uncovering some three tons of contraband peanuts and garlic originating from China, three motorscooters and 25 Chinese illegally working aboard the boats.

The discovery of the illegal workers aboard the two Fujian fishing boats marked the largest number of illegal workers found helping smugglers aboard Chinese fishing boats, Kinmen police sources said, adding that each boat was crewed by four legitimate sailors.

The Chinese discovered aboard the boats -- aged between 17 and 48 -- said they were hired at 50 remninbi a day, mainly to carry smuggled commodities.

Kinmen police arrested the skippers of the two boats, as well as the 25 illegal workers. The police also confiscated the contraband and motorscooters.

Currently in the temporary custody of Kinmen police, the Chinese will probably be sent to a Hsinchu detention center for Chinese caught illegally entering Taiwan,where they will await repatriation, according to police sources.

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