Detained Taiwanese ship not one that fled after being fined

Manila, May 11 (CNA) A Taiwanese fishing ship that was detained in the northern Philippines for alleged poaching May 7 is not a former Philippines fishing boat that was fined but fled before paying the money, an investigation has shown. Documents from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic resources show that the Taiwanese ship, the Sheng Feng No. 12, was previously registered as a Philippine fishing boat, the Teresita No. 16, which had collaborated with a company headed by a Chinese Filipino, to fish in Philippine waters. The company owned several fishing boats, one of which, the Teresita No. 6, was detained for alleged poaching June 2, 2007. The Taiwanese fishermen aboard the boat were fined US$200,000, but fled without paying the money, while the owner of the company also disappeared. The Sheng Feng No. 12 was passing through waters 6.5 nautical miles from Yami island, one of the Batanes island group in the northern Philippines May 7 when Philippine inspectors approached and boarded the boat to investigate possible poaching. The inspectors later found an old registration booklet aboard and thought of the Teresita No. 6 immediately. The ship was towed to Basco Harbor for further inspection and the case was turned over to prosecutors May 8. Captain Hung Tien-ting (???) and Taiwanese chief engineer Huang An-sheng (???), as well four Indonesian fishermen, were later released on bail. According to the fisheries code of the Philippines, foreign ships entering Philippine waters without permits will be regarded as poaching and fined between US$600,000 and US$1 million, up from earlier levels of between US$50,000 and US$200,000. Meanwhile, the crew of the Sheng Feng No. 12 were reported safe after Typhoon Noul lashed the northern Philippines, killing two and forcing the evacuation of many people, a Taiwanese official reported Monday. Lin Tung-heng (???), a section chief of Taiwan's representative office in Manila, who traveled to Basco, capital of the country's northernmost province of Batanes, last week to take care of the fishermen, said that both they and the boat were safe in the typhoon. Batanes has been battered by the periphery of Noul since Sunday night, resulting in power blackouts and the loss of cellphone communications. The typhoon passed over Batanes Monday morning, resulting in landslides. In anticipation of the typhoon, Captain Hung brought his ship into nearby Mahartao harbor to seek shelter. Water levels in Mahatao Harbor surged and the wind was strong, Hung said, adding that they weathered a terrible night, but that more than 7,000 fish fry aboard had died from lack of oxygen. (By Emerson Lim and Lilian Wu)