TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – On Sunday (Oct. 27), the Taiwan Coast Guard in Lienchiang (連江) County intercepted a Chinese sand dredging vessel and commandeered the ship for engaging in the illegal activity in the coastal waters off the Matsu Islands.
The ship, identified as the Zhenda (振大) No. 968, was spotted off the coast of Juguang Township (莒光鄉) around 5:00 a.m. by two Coast Guard patrol boats. The ship’s captain cooperated with Coast Guard officials and the ship was taken to into custody and docked at Fuaogang (福澳港) on Nangan (南竿) Island.
The incident marks the second time in one week that Chinese vessels have been caught dredging sand illegally in Taiwan’s territorial waters. On Oct. 25, two vessels were caught stealing sand from waters near Penghu. According to reports, 28 crew members were arrested in Friday’s incident and they are being held incommunicado.
CNA reports that Sunday’s incident is the fourth time in 2019 that the Taiwan Coast Guard has caught Chinese ships engaged in stealing sand from Taiwan’s shallow coastal waters, an activity that is growing increasingly common with the spike in market demand for sand as a construction material. The report does not mention how many crew members were aboard the Zhenda, but it does state that arrests were made and that the case has been forwarded to the Lienchiang District Prosecutors Office.
Zhenda No. 968 inspected in port at Nangan Island (CNA photo)