The Coast Guard Administration (CGA) yesterday announced that it had dispatched ships to intercept Chinese dredging vessels operating in the nation’s territorial waters near Penghu and detained 10 crew members, who were transported to Kaohsiung.
A coast guard patrol discovered more than 20 dredging vessels in an area known as the Formosa Banks, 46 nautical miles (85km) southwest of Penghu County’s Cimei islet (七美) at about 5am on Wednesday.
The agency responded by dispatching two patrol boats, the 3,000-tonne Kaohsiung and the 500-tonne Penghu, along with two frigates, to intercept the Chinese vessels, while an airborne observation unit was used to monitor their location.
Photo courtesy of the Coast Guard Administration
The Kaohsiung and the Penghu cornered a 7,539-tonne Chinese vessel that was mining sand, and the Penghu deployed a water cannon against it, the coast guard said.
The two boats closed in on the intruder and 17 coast guard personnel were able to board it, the agency said.
The 10 member crew aboard the Chinese vessel, including the captain, were detained and it was escorted to Kaohsiung’s Singda Harbor (興達港), the agency said.
Photo courtesy of the Coast Guard Administration
The Chinese ship was estimated to have mined more than 400 tonnes of sand, which was returned from where it was taken, it said.
The Formosa Banks have an abundance of marine life, but in recent years Chinese dredging vessels have frequently mined sand in the area, marring the terrain and ecology, it said.
In other developments, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday approved a draft ocean white paper, which includes the goal of defending the nation’s maritime sovereignty.
The draft has as an overarching theme to build a “sustainable, secure and prosperous” ocean nation, and seeks to facilitate international collaborations to uphold regional security through law enforcement at sea, conserve the marine ecology, establish goals for the development of ocean industries, encourage people to get close to the sea to populate the concept of an ocean nation, and to support oceanic research, the Ocean Affairs Council said.
The Ocean Basic Act (海洋基本法), passed in November last year, required the government to promulgate an ocean policy white paper within a year, the council said.
The white paper was drafted in the spirit of the Executive Yuan’s “paying tribute to the mountains” policy, which opened 77 mountain trails that had previously been off limits to the public, in the hopes of encouraging people to “know, get close to and sail” the sea, Su said.
Every nation must explore the sea if it wants to be prosperous, he said.
Taiwan, which has more than 2,000km of shoreline, should make good use of its geography, he said.
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