Five fishing boats registered with the island county of Penghu appealed to a legislator for assistance yesterday after their ships were seized by Chinese authorities and released only after the captains paid a total of more than NT$1 million (US$28,985).
The captains of the five ships claimed that they were operating in the open sea more than 129km from the southeast coast of China on July 11 when they were approached by armed vessels from Guangdong Province.
The vessels were seized and taken to a harbor on the province's Nanao Island, where the skippers were accused of violating a no-fishing ban imposed on the region between June 1 and Aug. 1 and of infringing on China's economic exclusion zone.
The captains of the five vessels were fined between 7,000 yuan and 46,000 yuan (US$845 to US$5,556) and forced to pay 8,000 yuan for their catches before they were allowed to return to Penghu on Sunday.
The captains, accompanied by Penghu Fishery Association Secretary General Hsu Ta-chou (許大洲), appealed to independent Legislator Lin Ping-kun (林炳坤) for assistance.
The five captains expressed discontent, saying that Penghu regulations bar fishing ships from operating within 23km of the shore, but when they operate in the open sea, they are seized by the Chinese authorities.
Although they claimed to be operating in the open seas more than 185km from Penghu and up to 129km from the Chinese coast, China claims a 370km economic exclusion zone, which the captains pointed out includes the whole of the Taiwan Strait.