TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – On Sunday morning, March 2, the Argentinian Coast Guard opened fire on a Chinese fishing vessel that was reportedly fishing illegally in the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
The Chinese vessel, Hua Xiang 801, was confronted by the Argentine Naval Prefecture (PNA) cutter, the Mantilla, one nautical mile inside of the EEZ off the coast of Comodoro Rivadavia, an area rich with squid.
Two rounds of warning shots were fired because the trespassing Hua Xiang 801 did not have its Automatic Identification System (AIS) activated and failed to respond to verbal commands.
The Chinese ship then activated its running lights and made a break for international waters, but as it made to flee, the Chinese ship made aggressive maneuvers towards the Coast Guard ship, which endangered the PNA crew.
The Argentinians then targeted the Hua Xiang with another round of gunfire as it fled. The fishing vessel ultimately made it to international waters, and the Coast Guard ceased pursuit.
Video of the incident recorded by the PNA can be below.
The Argentinian government has since asked other nations to assist with commandeering and arresting the crew members of the vessel. The Chief of Marine Traffic Services for PNA issued the following statement, reported by Maritime Executive.
"(The Hua Xiang 801) evaded the maritime authority and (we have issued) an international arrest warrant. There is a history of this, and the vessels that escaped were captured and fined ($190,000)."
Chinese media reports that representatives of the company which owns the vessel have already been sent to Argentina to negotiate over the incident.
According to Seafood Source, Chinese officials have claimed that Chinese fishing vessels do not have clear coordinates marking Argentina’s EEZ in the region.
Illegal squid fishing is a recurring problem in the region. In 2016, the Argentinian Coast Guard fired upon a Chinese fishing vessel, Lu Yan Yuan Yu 010, causing it to catch fire and sink.
In February 2018, Indonesia cooperated with Argentina to detain a Chinese fishing vessel, the Hua Li 8,, which was being sought for a similar offense. The ship’s owner was forced to pay US$175,800 to Argentina before the ship was released by the Indonesian government, reports Seafood Source.