Detained Taiwanese boat said a repeat offender in Philippine waters

Basco, the Philippines, May 10 (CNA) A Taiwanese fishing boat detained by the Philippines last week was found to have the same engine as a former Philippines fishing boat which had been fined but fled without paying the money. Philippine officials told CNA that investigators have found a registration booklet aboard Taiwan's Sheng Feng No. 12 which shows it used to be the Teresia No. 16, a Philippines-registered boat that had been fined US$200,000 for poaching, a penalty that was never paid. After fleeing, the Teresia No. 16 had its name changed. In that new name, the boat once again entered the Philippines waters illegally, according to the officials. Another reason that the Philippines authorities were still keeping the Sheng Feng No. 12 under custody was that it had registered as fishing ground the Indian Ocean and so had no reason to pass through the Batanes territorial waters of the Philippines, according to the officials. Hung Tien-ting (???), captain of the Sheng Feng No. 12, has claimed that his boat was having an "innocent passage" through the Philippines waters, but the Philippines authorities were still investigating the incident on suspicion of poaching. The Philippines authorities were also determining who owned the Teresia No. 16 at the time of its being fined US$200,000 and fleeing. Six people aboard the Taiwanese fishing boat, now in Basco, were released on bail Friday after negotiations with Filipino officials. The six included Hung, chief engineer Huang An-sheng (???) and four Indonesian fishermen. The court ordered each of them to be freed on bail of 15,000 pesos (US$336). They can move freely for the time being in the Philippines but still have to appear in court if summoned. The Pingtung-registered "Sheng Feng No. 12" was passing through waters 6.5 nautical miles from Yami island, among the Batanes island group in the northern Philippines, early Thursday morning when inspectors on a Philippine ship approached and boarded the fishing boat to investigate possible poaching of fish, according to a fishermen's association in Pingtung's Liouciou, where the boat is based. (By Emerson Lim and S.C. Chang)