Fishing boat loses contact in southern Indian Ocean

Staff writer, with CNA

Sat, Mar 29, 2014 - Page 4

A Taiwanese fishing boat has been reported missing in the Indian Ocean, according to a fishermen’s group in southern Taiwan, which has sought government help.

On the Fu Fa No. 12 are Taiwanese captain Chen Hsin-fu (陳幸福), 46, and 14 Indonesian crew who have worked on the boat for more than 10 years, the Liuqiu Township (琉球) fishermen’s association in Pingtung County said on Thursday.

Upon learning of the loss of communication, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs contacted Mauritius’ maritime patrol unit to seek its assistance in searching for the boat, ministry spokesperson Anna Kao (高安) said.

The Fu Fa No. 12 sailed from Pingtung in March 2010 to fish near Mauritius in the southern Indian Ocean and stayed there to catch tuna and marlin, the fishermen’s group said.

The captain has kept in regular contact with his wife and the boat’s owner since its departure, boat owner Chen Ming (陳銘) said.

However, early on Monday, Chen Ming and the captain’s wife missed calls from the Fu Fa No. 12. When they called back, they could not reach the vessel.

The ship was tracked to 415 nautical miles (769km) southeast of Mauritius on Monday afternoon, Chen Ming said. That was the last information on the location of the boat, Chen said.

He suspected the boat might have faced strong winds and big waves or a storm.

A hijacking of the fishing boat seemed unlikely, the fishermen’s association said, adding that the boat was not operating in an area where piracy was rampant.