Chinese sand dredging ships to serve as targets for Taiwanese military drills

Illegal dredging has surged near Penghu

Coast guard might hand over illegal sand dredging ships to military 

Coast guard might hand over illegal sand dredging ships to military  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Chinese ships impounded for illegal sand dredging could be handed over to the military for target practice, the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) said Tuesday (July 28).

Thousands of such ships have been active around Taiwan, particularly near Penghu in the middle of the Taiwan Strait, after China banned the dredging of sand closer to its coast. Since October, the Coast Guard has impounded three of the vessels, which will first be put up for auction, CNA reported.

In the event that no buyer shows up, the ships could be transferred to the military for use as targets in live-fire missile drills, the CGA said Tuesday. Other possibilities include dismantling the vessels or sinking them for use as manmade reefs.

Since the CGA began planning to take tougher action against the illegal dredgers, concerns have arisen that the seized ships would take up too much space at piers in Taiwan's harbors. They require disposal, but the authorities want to make sure the original Chinese owners will not be able to buy them back.

Over the past four years, the CGA had also taken control of seven illegal Chinese dredgers near Kinmen and five near Matsu.