Taiwan fishing boats reportedly detained now safe: Officials

Taiwan fishing boats reportedly detained now safe: Officials

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Taiwanese fishing boats that were reportedly detained by the Indonesian Coast Guard on Friday are safe, Taiwan's fishery authorities said yesterday.

The Taiwanese Council of Fisheries within the Department of Agriculture announced yesterday that only one of the four ships was confirmed to be in Indonesian waters, but each one has reported to Taiwanese authorities. The other two ships that were detained were not located in Indonesian waters, and the fourth ship was mistakenly reported to have been seized, said the Council.

Indonesian media reported that Indonesian Maritime and Fisheries Department announced that in an effort to curtail illegal foreign fishing operations in their territorial waters, 22 Chinese fishing boats were detained and three Vietnamese fishing boats were sunk several days ago by the Indonesian Coast Guard.

The Indonesian Marine and Fisheries authority stated on Friday that their maritime vessel identification system detected 13 foreign fishing vessels in Indonesian waters illegally fishing. Among these boats were four Taiwanese fishing boats that were quickly detained by the Indonesian naval authorities, according to the fishery authority. The boats were initially identified as Goang Shing Lih No. 6, Shin Jyi Chyuu No. 36, Jin Yu Cheng and Yi Feng No. 682.

The Taiwanese fishery authority's Vessel Monitoring System (VMS), which reports on each ship's position every four hours, confirmed that one of the reportedly indicated ships, Shin Jyi Chyuu No. 36, did not appear in the national database, according to the fishery authority. The Council noted that there is only a Shin Jyi Chyuu No. 33 that was off the coast of Palau at the time the Taiwanese ships were detained - nowhere near Indonesian territory.

The Goang Shing Lih No. 6 vessel did not come up on the VMS report from Dec. 16 but was later confirmed to be in Palau waters on the evening of Dec. 19, according to authorities. Jin Yu Cheng, the third vessel, was the only one that was confirmed to be located within Indonesian waters even though it was bearing northeast on its way home, according to the VMS data.

Yesterday morning the crew's families reported to the Council of Fisheries that they were contacted by their loved ones, telling them that they were safe. The captain of Jin Yu Cheng claimed they were moving as fast as they could to distance themselves from Indonesian waters, but they were spotted by Indonesian authorities before leaving the area.

The fourth ship reportedly captured by Indonesian authorities, Yih Feng No. 682, was the first ship to report back to Taiwan that they were safe. The council confirmed that they were also located in the vicinity of Palau and were not in danger of being detained by Indonesian authorities.

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