Coastal security suffers as cameras remain broken

OUT OF ORDER::A total of 274 security cameras were installed at 52 fishing ports in the north, but 143 of them have been in disrepair since January last year

Staff writer, with CNA

Wed, Feb 20, 2013 - Page 3

Northern Taiwan’s coastal safety is at risk, as many security cameras at fishing ports have been broken for months, local media reported.

The Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper) quoted coast guard officers as saying that more than half of the 274 security cameras at fishing ports from Yilan County to Hsinchu County have been broken since January last year.

Slow progress in fixing the cameras has made it harder to prevent smuggling and protect border security, the coast guard officers were quoted as saying.

The government began to establish video surveillance systems at fishing ports around the country in 2001. All of the 274 security cameras at the 52 fishing ports in northeastern and northern areas began to break down in January last year and 143 of them have so far not been repaired.

Three of the seven radar systems installed by the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) along the nation’s northern coast broke down in March last year, leaving areas from Yehliu (野柳) to Bitoujiao (鼻頭角) at risk. They were not repaired until the Liberty Times ran a report on the issue.

Many of the security cameras in northern fishing ports were also out of order during the same period.

Fang Hsin-hsiung (方信雄), director of Keelung Harbor’s maritime pilot division, said coastal radar systems are designed to monitor ships navigating in waters 12 nautical miles (22km) from the nation’s coast and security cameras at fishing ports are aimed at monitoring ship, human and vehicle movement inside the ports.

“If radars and security cameras sit broken for a long period of time, our border or coastal safety could be at stake,” Fang said, adding that smuggling could also become rampant.

At one point, all of the 24 security cameras at Badouzih (八斗子) fishing port broke down.

Coast guard officials said most of the country’s video surveillance facilities at fishing ports were old and in need of repair or renewal.

They said the CGA had set aside a budget for replacing the aging security cameras at all major fishing ports from 2015.

Before the replacement project is completed, the CGA will reinforce coastal patrols and push contractors to speed up repairs and maintenance work on existing video surveillance systems, CGA officials said.