2 Taiwanese fishing boats allegedly fired at by Indonesian patrol vessel now in Singapore

2 Taiwanese fishing boats allegedly fired at by Indonesian patrol vessel now in Singapore
Crew members of the Taiwanese vessels at Jurong Fishery Port, on March 24, 2016.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Update: Two Taiwanese fishing vessels that were allegedly chased and fired at by an Indonesian patrol vessel arrived in Singapore early Thursday (March 24) morning. The Straits Times reported that there were 25 crew members on board, including the two Taiwanese captains. Both vessels docked at Jurong Fishery Port at about 7.15am.

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Two Taiwanese fishing boats claimed to have been fired upon by an Indonesian government vessel while operating in the Strait of Malacca early on Monday. Taiwan's representatives in Jakarta are confirming the involvement of an Indonesian state vessel, noting that the area is known for rampant piracy.

The Taiwanese vessels involved included the Sheng Te Tsai and the Lien I Hsing No. 116, both of which were reportedly en route to Singapore to offload their cargo and replenish onboard supplies. The skipper of the Sheng Te Tsai, Lin Nan-yang, sent a satellite call to the Taiwanese vessel owner shortly after 5 am to indicate that both ships had been shot at. None of the crew members were injured during the incident, although the Sheng Te Tsai's hull was punctured by 10 bullet holes.

According to the CNA, Lin stated that the shots had been aimed at the ship's cockpit and originated from a ship bearing a prefix code (2804) indicating that it was an Indonesian government vessel. Indonesian officials have stated they have not yet received information regarding the incident.

Taiwan's Taipei Economic and Trade Office in Indonesia has confirmed through communication logs that both vessels had been fired upon and chased by an Indonesian vessel, but further confirmation was required to indicate whether the ship involved was a government ship. The office has already contacted the Fisheries Agency to obtain the telemetry of the Taiwanese vessels in order to ascertain whether they had entered Indonesian territorial waters.

Taiwanese officials stated that they would be maintaining communication with Indonesian officials in order to determine whether one of its vessels was involved in the shoot-out. It also urged Taiwan's fishing vessels operating in the area to abide by applicable laws, stating that the Indonesian government had stepped up its posture to protect its maritime resources.

Fisheries officials indicated that bilateral negotiations between Taipei and Jakarta could help better ensure the safety of Taiwanese boats operating in the area. Similar agreements have been concluded with both Japan and the Philippines.

The Strait of Malacca, located between Indonesia and Malaysia, is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, but is also known as a region susceptible to piracy. Patrols by Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore in recent years have aimed to curb piracy in the region.

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