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October, 27, 2016

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Family of skipper calls on gov't to intervene

A family member of the skipper of a Pingtung-registered fishing boat seized by the Indonesian authorities has called on the government in Taipei to intervene. The vessel in question is currently being held on poaching charges.

The relative, surnamed Tsai, told the Chinese-language Apple Daily the vessel had been detained at an Indonesia military harbor since Oct. 12.

Tsai added the boat — the Jih Lien Tsai No. 16 (日連財16號) — had been seized while traveling through overlapping exclusive economic zones between the Philippines and Indonesia.

Two Taiwanese and six Filipino crew members were among those arrested by the Indonesian military, Tsai told the newspaper.

Addressing the charge that the boat had been fishing illegally, Tsai said the vessel was not operating when it encountered the Indonesian military vessel.

The Indonesian officials accused the crew of fishing illegally after seeing the vessel's catch, before arresting the fisherman and seizing the ship, Tsai said.

However, Tsai said the boat's catch had not been harvested in the Indonesian EEZ.

Tsai has called on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and the Fisheries Agency to actively engage in talks with their Indonesian counterparts to ensure the vessel and its crew are released as soon as possible.

MOFA to Talk with Indonesia

Asked to comment, MOFA spokeswoman Eleanor Wang told The China Post that Taiwan's representative office in Indonesia would soon begin talks with Jakarta over the matter.

The office was also mulling over sending personnel to visit the crew to make sure their rights were being protected.

The incident comes six month after two Taiwanese fishing vessels were fired upon by Indonesian patrol vessels while traveling through the country's EEZ in the South China Sea in March 2016.

Taipei protested over what they described as the excessive use of force

Indonesian authorities later insisted that the two Taiwanese vessels were fishing illegally and had not displayed their national flags while traveling through the EEZ.

The Taiwanese fishing vessels also did not respond to the Indonesian patrol vessels' calls and warning shots when asked to stop, resulting in the patrol vessels firing on the fishing boats.

To prevent similar incidents in the future, then Foreign Minister David Lin (林永樂) said in April that the ministry had already extended its proposal to the Indonesian authorities to begin official dialogue on the signing a marine patrol cooperation.

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