Tue, Jan 25, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Activist arrested for tuna protest

By Benjamin Yeh  /  AFP, TAIPEI

Police arrested a member of Greenpeace yesterday as the environmental organization launched its first ever protest in Taiwan, trying to stop a tuna carrier from leaving port, the group said.

Tipsuda Atichakaro, a Thai citizen, climbed onto an anchor cable dangling from the Lung Yuin, a refrigerated tuna transporter, shortly before it was to leave Greater Kaohsiung, Greenpeace said.

She took turns with another activist chaining herself to the cable, sparking a three-hour standoff with police, which ended when officers arrested her on charges of endangering public safety. The other protester was not detained.

“She will be transferred to prosecutors,” an officer with the Greater Kaohsiung harbor police said.

The Lung Yuin, a 3,431 tonne Taiwanese-owned vessel registered in Vanuatu and used to store and transport tuna catch, has “a history of involvement in illegal fishing operations,” Greenpeace said.

“Reefers like the Lung Yuin facilitate the large-scale tuna plunder of the Pacific region,” Greenpeace East Asia Oceans campaigner Kao Yu-fen (高于棻) said. “It should not be allowed to use Taiwanese ports unless it can at least comply to simple requirements that it register its operations with Taiwan’s Fisheries Agency.”

Greenpeace demanded Taiwanese authorities immediately investigate what it referred to as the vessel’s “illegal practices.”

The ship’s owner, Wang Shung-lung (王順隆), denied the accusations, saying the vessel was registered with international bodies, such as the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission, which manages the tuna resources in the Eastern Pacific region.

“We also reported to the Fisheries Agency in advance of the scheduled journey to Fiji this time,” he said.

Wang, whose family operates the ship along with 12 other tuna fishing vessels, was unhappy with the methods chosen by the Greenpeace activists.

“I respect their appeal calling for preserving marine reserves. Would that be good to me if the fish resources became depleted?” he said.

“But they shouldn’t take such irrational action. It isn’t helpful for their cause at all,” he added.

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