Philippines to reinforce maritime security after repeated fishing offenses

Inhabitants in the Northern Philippines have shown great repulse towards Taiwanese fishing boats after their repeated offenses over the years, an unnamed official in the Philippines said Sunday, adding that authorities will be dispatching additional sea patrols to enhance maritime security in nearby waters.

In a recent incident last week, the Liuchiu-registered fishing vessel Shen Fong 12 from Pingtung County was seized by authorities after veering 6.5 nautical miles off the coast of the Philippines.

The official from the province of the Batanes told the CNA that local inhabitants, the media, and law enforcement authorities are enraged that their Taiwanese counterparts fail to show constraint over the illegal activities conducted by Taiwanese fishing vessels.

While the Philippines is scheduled to hold their presidential election in May next year, the fishery disputes between the two countries have quickly caught the attention of Filipino politicians (and especially those running for primaries in coming June), who also remind local authorities to show no leniency over Taiwan.

The Philippine official said under the current circumstances, Filipino authorities will most likely levy a fine on Shen Fong 12, otherwise the case will be brought to court.

He however reminded Taiwanese fishing vessels that all trespasses will be considered acts of piracy, a crime which Philippine authorities have raised the fine from US$600,000 to US$1 million beginning March this year.

Hung Tien-ting, captain of the Sheng Feng No. 12, has claimed that his boat was only passing through the Philippine waters and was not operating at the time, but local authorities believe it was poaching. The vessel is currently being detained in the Batanes.