Taiwan ministry in talks with Manila over fishermen arrest

Taiwan ministry in talks with Manila over fishermen arrest

TAIPEI - Taiwan's representative in the Philippines is in talks with the Philippines government regarding the arrest and detention of a Taiwanese fishing vessel and its crewmen, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) spokesman said yesterday.

MOFA Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs head Elliott Charng yesterday told The China Post that the representative office was informed by the Philippines immediately following the arrest and detention of the Pingtung-registered "Sheng Feng No. 12" and its crew.

The office immediately sent staff to visit the Taiwanese crew detained by the Philippines.

The two sides are dealing with the matter in accordance with an existing mechanism involving fishery disputes occurring within overlapping exclusive economic zones in the South China Sea, he said.

The Liuchiu District Fishermen's Association yesterday told local media that the "Sheng Feng No. 12" left Donggang harbour, Pingtung County at 9 a.m. on Wednesday before heading toward the South China Sea to capture southern bluefin tuna.

The ship, however, was intercepted and boarded by Philippine officials at around 5 a.m. yesterday, according to the association.

The ship's Taiwanese captain, surnamed Hung and chief engineer surnamed Huang, as well as four foreign national crewmen are currently being detained on the island of Batanes.

The association said that the fishing vessel was simply traveling through the waters and it was not operating in the region.

It questioned the legitimacy of Philippine authorities in arresting and detaining the Taiwanese vessel.

Meanwhile, Taiwan's top envoy to the Philippines Lin Song-huann yesterday told the Chinese-language Apple Daily that the Philippine authorities accuse the Taiwanese vessel of operating in Philippine waters; they claim it was intercepted 6.5 nautical miles away from the islet of Mavulis, the northernmost of the Batanes Islands.

Lin said his representative office is waiting for the Philippines investigative report into the incident.

The office will protect the rights of Taiwanese fishermen and has also demanded that the Philippines ensure the fishermen are treated humanely, Lin said.

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