Wed, Aug 30, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Kinmen coast guard confronts 24 Chinese boats

SEA BORDERS The coast guard has started a crack-down on Chinese vessels that enter the nation's waters around the Kinmen, Matsu and Penghu islands

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Coast Guard Administration (CGA) yesterday announced it had intercepted 24 Chinese fishing boats entering waters around Kinmen so far this week.

The CGA yesterday said at a press conference that it had begun a crackdown on Chinese vessels entering waters off the outlying islands of Kinmen, Matsu and Penghu to counter smuggling and Chinese poachers from Monday until Oct. 6 -- the Mid-Autumn Festival.

"From Sunday evening to this morning [yesterday], the coast guard asked 12 Chinese fishing boats to leave Kinmen waters by broadcasting messages [to them], while 39 Chinese fishermen on another 12 vessels were apprehended for being too far inside our waters," said Cheng Chang-Hsiung (鄭樟雄), director general of the coast guard's Maritime Patrol Directorate General at the press conference yesterday.

He said the coast guard was interviewing those who'd been arrested and would later decide whether to charge them for violating the law.

The official added that the coast guard had seized fishing nets and released 300,000 fish.

Cheng said the coast guard found that some of the fishermen were using small-gauge nets that could catch very small fish, and that this could significantly damage the ocean ecology.

He said more CGA vessels would be dispatched to Kinmen, Matsu and Penghu during the crackdown.

The government is concerned that smuggling from China could spark an outbreak of avian flu or other diseases in Taiwan.

The government has ordered the CGA to conduct strict surveillance and interception operations in the area, focusing on illegally imported animals and animal products.

The CGA has been criticized for being unable to counter increasingly aggressive Chinese fishermen who intrude into Taiwanese waters. The intrusions have led to disputes at sea.

Cheng yesterday said the coast guard was confident it could clean up the waters around the outlying islands.

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