The Coast Guard Administration yesterday said that patrol boats and cutters used water cannons to repel illegal Chinese fishing boats from territorial waters around Penghu over the past three days as fears mount that their activities could destroy the area’s coral reefs and aquatic environment.
A total of 25 Chinese fishing boats were observed in Penghu waters, of which at least two were seen doing bottom trawling with large nets, using bottom rollers that drag along the seabed, coast guard officials said.
Due to the urgency of the situation, the coast guard on Saturday dispatched its 2,000 tonne cutter CG 126 Tainan, an armed patrol vessels that uses to enforce Taiwan’s maritime sovereignty, to an area south of Penghu, they said.
Personnel on the cutter shot jets from its water cannon to repel the Chinese boats, which were poaching fish from the South Penghu Marine National Park (澎湖南方四島國家公園), they said.
Other coast guard vessels also patrolled, reporting illegal poaching by boats bearing Chinese flags, the officials said, adding that the Chinese boats made contact and said that they were entering Penghu waters due to high winds and rough waves in the deeper areas of the Taiwan Strait.
Hsiao Tsai-chuan (蕭再泉), a police squad leader monitoring the national park using binoculars and electronic devices, said he on Saturday reported that two of the Chinese boats were fishing using bottom trawling.
There are coral reefs and other seabed fish habitats in the area, which might have sustained extensive damage, endangering the out the fish stock, Hsiao said, adding that the national park must be protected from foreign intruders and illegal poaching.
Penghu County commissioner Lai Feng-wei (賴峰偉) said that he would initiate talks with the Chinese government and prioritize prevention of illegal poaching and intrusion by Chinese fishing boats.
“We are also worried that bottom trawling in the national park has already caused extensive damage to coral reefs and the seabed habitat for fish and other marine life,” Lai said.
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