Wed, Jul 27, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Three Taiwanese fishing boats dock at Itu Aba port

Staff writer, with CNA

Ten crew members of three Taiwanese fishing boats set foot on Itu Aba Island (Taiping Island, 太平島) in the South China Sea yesterday, saying that they were excited to see the island up close.

The boats left Pingtung County on Wednesday last week for the island to highlight the nation’s sovereignty and that it is in fact an “island” under international law after an international tribunal ruled on July 12 that it was legally a “rock.”

The boats docked on Monday night and, after requesting permission from the commander stationed on Itu Aba, the fishermen were allowed access to the port yesterday.

They were forbidden from venturing onto the rest of the island, as it is a restricted military base, said Chen Fu-sheng (陳富盛), captain of the Pingtung-based Man Sheng Chi No. 8, one of the three boats that made the trip.

“Since we have traveled to Taiping Island, we feel like we should set foot on its land or we will have regrets,” Chen said in a telephone interview. “I saw the stone tablet that former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) took a photo with. There are coconut and papaya trees on the island.”

Chen said he believes Itu Aba is an island because it has trees, fresh water, chickens and cows.

He said his crew filled up bottles of fresh water to bring back to Taiwan for reporters who were unable to make the journey.

The three boats departed for Taiwan at about 11am after being replenished with fresh water and cartons of canned pork and beef.

While no Taiwanese reporters made the journey, a crew from Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV were on a fourth fishing boat that was not allowed to dock. It dropped anchor in waters off the island.

During their brief stay, two of the fishermen visited a medical center to be treated for toothache and a skin infection.

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