Chinese caught dredging in Taiwan's Matsu deported by Coast Guard

Crew members released after serving seven month prison terms

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Matsu’s Coast Guard has pledged to impose severe punishment for trespassing. (photo: CNA)

Matsu’s Coast Guard has pledged to impose severe punishment for trespassing. (photo: CNA)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The captain and crew of a Chinese dredger seized by the Coast Guard in January were deported yesterday (Aug. 7) after having completed their prison sentences, according to the China Times.

The Coast Guard captured the dredger operating near Taiwan's Matsu Islands on Jan. 7 of this year. The ship was then confiscated and auctioned off by the Fuchien Lienchiang District Prosecutors Office, and its crew members were each sentenced to seven months in prison by the Fuchien Lienchiang District Court on Jan. 30.

At around 4 p.m. yesterday, the crew was deported under the surveillance of the Coast Guard's Boat 10037. The crew was then transferred to a Chinese vessel 2.3 nautical miles (4.26 km) off the coast of Beigan Township, Matsu.

The District Prosecutors Office has condemned the illegal removal of sand, which is a serious threat to ocean ecosystems, according to Ma Tsu Daily News. The authorities have pledged to carry out patrols in bordering waters and impose severe punishment for trespassing.

Two dredgers have been caught in Taiwanese waters this year and have been sold at auction for a total of over NT$80 million (US$2.5 million). The Coast Guard has said it will not be lenient with perpetrators of illegal dredging and asks citizens to report any suspicious activities in the area by calling 118 or 0836-22647.