The Coast Guard Administration (CGA) said that three additional large vessels have been dispatched to waters south of Taiwan since May 10 to increase protection for Taiwanese boats in the wake of the fatal shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman in the area.
A CGA official said that in view of the changes in the region, the CGA has stepped up its protection of Taiwanese fishermen in line with the government’s standard operating procedure.
The ships can pinpoint the locations of Taiwanese fishing boats every four hours through a vessel monitoring system and can then adjust the areas they cover to deal with any contingencies.
“In addition to sending large vessels to the Pratas Islands [Dongsha Islands, 東沙群島] and the Spratly Islands [Nansha Islands, 南沙群島] on a regular basis, the CGA has adjusted the intensity and coverage areas of its patrols in accordance with fishing seasons, priority fishing areas or contingencies,” the official said.
He said that the CGA currently has 184 vessels responsible for the protection of fishing boats in waters around Taiwan, of which 164 range in size from 20 tonnes to 2,000 tonnes, with the rest being smaller craft.
The vessels and their crews are equipped with a variety of weapons, including 20mm guns, T75 light machine guns, Uzi submachine guns, T65 rifles and 9mm pistols. They are also to be fitted with more powerful 40mm guns at a later date, the official said.
The CGA said that Taiwan’s economic zones overlap to a considerable degree with those of China, Japan and the Philippines, and the country follows the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to demarcate the boundary lines according to the practice of international law.
Meanwhile, fishermen from Pingtung County who have been fishing for bluefin tuna have made bigger catches than last year.
The Donggang Fishermen’s Association said the haul as of Friday morning was 94, 21 more than the 73 caught during the same period of last year.
An association official attributed the increased haul to the stepped-up protection by the CGA vessels, which has given many fishermen a better sense of security.