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Taiwan arrests Chinese fishermen in protected waters

More than 700 pounds of rare marine life was seized.

By Elizabeth Shim
Taiwan arrests Chinese fishermen in protected waters
Taiwan is stepping up seizures of boats fishing near the disputed Pratas or Dongsha Islands. File Photo courtesy of David Chang/EPA

March 24 (UPI) -- Taiwan detained 20 crewmembers on a Hong Kong vessel on charges of fishing illegally in Taiwan-claimed waters.

Multiple Taiwan news services reported the boat was apprehended on Tuesday in waters near the Pratas Islands.

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Beijing claims the islands but Taiwan controls the territory and declared the islands a national park in 2007.

Fishing is prohibited in the waters near the Pratas Islands, also known as Dongsha Islands in Taiwan and China.

The boat, Taisha 2288, was apprehended while operating about 27 miles from the islands.

Taiwanese authorities said they seized 770 pounds of rare marine life, including a catch of Japanese goatfish.

Among the 20 crewmembers, the boat's captain with the surname Pang, 60, was transferred to Kaohsiung city, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

Kaohsiung administers the Pratas Islands.

Beijing is expected to take some form of reprisal for the arrests, as all crewmembers on board are Chinese nationals.

The boat is being seized at a time when the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors' Office and the Kaohsiung Coast Guard Patrol are stepping up protection of rare marine resources in and around the islands.

Five Taiwanese ships and 77 Taiwanese police officers were mobilized on Tuesday to crack down on illegal fishing activities.

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