Mon, Nov 17, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Japan seizes Taiwanese fishing boat in Miyakos

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

A Taiwanese fishing boat was detained by the Japanese coast guard close to Japan’s Miyako Islands on Saturday, the Council of Agriculture’s Fisheries Agency said yesterday.

The Yungsheng No. 106 from Suao (蘇澳) was ordered by a Japanese coast guard vessel, identified as Nobaru, to stop for an inspection very early Saturday morning.

Taiwanese officials posted in Japan were puzzled as to why had the Japanese coast guard made the request.

“I don’t understand why it was necessary for the Japanese coast guard to request to board the Yungsheng No. 106 for an inspection since the vessel was only passing through Japan’s territorial waters,” said Lee Ming-tsung (李明宗), director of the Naha branch of Taiwan’s representative office in Japan.

At the time, the ship was in waters near the Miyako Islands about 300km southwest of Okinawa, the Fisheries Agency reported.

HOT PURSUIT

The Suao boat did not stop because it was just passing through Japanese territorial waters, not fishing there.

The Japanese patrol vessel Nobaru then chased the Yungsheng No. 106 and rammed it, forcing the Taiwanese boat to stop.

The Yungsheng No. 106 was ordered to sail to the Miyako Islands main port of Hirara for an investigation at 1:20am on Saturday, the Fisheries Agency said.

The crew of the Suao fishing boat — two Taiwanese, one Chinese and six Filipinos — were safe, the agency said.

Officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stationed in Okinawa have headed to the islands to gain a better understanding of the incident, agency officials said.

SORTING THINGS OUT

“They will ask the Japanese coast guard for details so they can sort out who’s right and who’s wrong, as well as asking Japan to release the Yungsheng No. 106 and its crew at the earliest possible date,” an agency official said.

The Fisheries Agency said the Yungsheng No. 106 is not equipped with a vessel monitoring system commonly used to track fishing boats, making it hard for Taiwanese fishery authorities to get a clear picture of the incident.

Under Japan’s fisheries law, the Taiwanese skipper of the Yungsheng No. 106 could face a jail term of up to six months or a fine of up to ¥300,000 (US$3,000) for “rejecting the demands of investigators to board and inspect the ship,” the official said.

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