Taiwan Coast Guard clashes with illegal Chinese sand dredgers

Largest Chinese ship escorted to Kaohsiung

Illegal dredging by Chinese ships in the Taiwan Strait 

Illegal dredging by Chinese ships in the Taiwan Strait  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Taiwanese Coast Guard on Wednesday (June 3) intercepted a flotilla of illegal Chinese sand dredgers, including a 7,539-ton vessel larger than any of the Taiwanese ships.

Illegal fishing and sand dredging by ships from China has been a recurring problem leading to confrontation in the Taiwan Strait.

The latest incident occurred 46 nautical miles southwest of the scenic island of Qimei in Penghu County, UDN reported. An estimated 20 Chinese ships appeared in the area early Wednesday morning, but the Coast Guard increased its presence to 24 hours a day, enlisting the military as well as an airborne observation unit; at the same time, Taiwan also contacted China, asking it to crack down on illegal dredging ships on its side of the Taiwan Strait.

The largest Chinese vessel counted a crew of 10 and was transporting 400 tons of sand, the Coast Guard said. Four of its own ships surrounded the Chinese vessel and escorted it to a harbor in Kaohsiung City for further inspections. Its load of sand will have to be dumped back into the sea, according to the UDN report.