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MAC urges China to release detained fishing vessel and crew

07/11/2024 09:09 PM
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The Da Jin Man No.88 (left). Photo courtesy of a private contributor July 3, 2024
The Da Jin Man No.88 (left). Photo courtesy of a private contributor July 3, 2024

Taipei, July 11 (CNA) The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) on Thursday called on China to release a fishing boat and crew that were detained earlier this month, saying that the incident should be considered "a matter for Chinese law enforcement."

Speaking at a news conference on Thursday, MAC deputy head and spokesperson Liang Wen-chieh (梁文傑) said that crew members found to be fishing illegally should be released as soon as procedures such as payment of fines have been completed.

Da Jin Man No. 88 (大進滿88號), a Taiwanese fishing vessel registered in Penghu, was boarded and seized by China Coast Guard (CCG) personnel at a location east-northeast of Liaoluo Bay 17.5 nautical miles outside Taiwan-controlled "restricted waters" off the Kinmen Islands on July 2, according to Taiwan's Coast Guard Administration (CGA).

The vessel, along with its two Taiwanese and three Indonesian crew members, were detained by the Chinese authorities for illegally operating in Chinese territorial seas, the CGA said.

Fishing vessels are prohibited from operating in China's territorial seas during the closed fishing season, according to Chinese law.

As of Thursday evening, Da Jin Man No. 88 and its crew have been detained for nine days, and it is not known when they may be released.

"We consider this a matter for Chinese law enforcement," Liang said, adding that both sides of the Taiwan Strait should respect each other's approaches to enforcing their respective laws.

"We promptly release detained Chinese fishing vessels after completing relevant procedures," Liang added, implying that the Chinese authorities should similarly release the boat and the five crew members as soon as possible.

On Tuesday, a Chinese fishing boat and its four crew members seized by the CGA late last month in waters off an islet belonging to Taiwan's Penghu County was released after paying a fine of NT$300,000 (US$9,230) for poaching.

Before the incident involving Da Jin Man No. 88, Taiwanese vessels were detained by the Chinese authorities for fishing during China's closed fishing season on two occasions in the past 21 years: five boats were seized in July 2003 and six more were seized in July 2005.

In both cases, all 11 of these Penghu-registered ships were released after paying fines and returned to Penghu within two days after being seized, according to the CGA.

When asked by CNA if the Chinese government had political reasons for prolonging the detention of the five crew members, Liang did not answer directly, but said that the two previous cases had been resolved relatively quickly.

He also pointed out that it has been nearly 20 years since a similar case has occurred.

"The laws and regulations set by the Chinese Communist Party, as well as their law enforcement procedures, may have changed, so we cannot make generalizations," he said.

Liang did not say whether there has been any actual progress on releasing Da Jin Man No. 88's five crew members.

(By Sunny Lai)

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