A Taiwanese fishing vessel, the Chung Yi No. 318, has been held by Somali rebel militiamen since Aug. 13 for allegedly fishing in Somali waters, the Kaohsiung Fishermen's Association said yesterday.
A spokesman for the association said that the rebels are demanding US$90,000 in ransom for the release of the deep-sea tuna long-liner, although the captain paid application fees for fishing rights as required by local authorities.
The 90-tonne fishing vessel has 20 crew members from Taiwan, China, Indonesia and the Philippines. They were arrested when they were trying to steer the ship into a Somali port.
Attempts to negotiate with the Somali rebel militia for the vessel's release are difficult because Taiwan has no diplomatic relations with Somalia.
The Kaohsiung Fishermen's Association said that it is seeking help from human-rights organizations in the US through the Council of Agriculture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to obtain the release of the vessel.
Somalia, with the longest coastline in Africa, is surrounded by waters ideal for tuna fishing.
The country has been troubled by factional fighting since the overthrow of military ruler Mohamed Said Barre in 1991.
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