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CGA to up patrols against illegal Chinese scavenging

TAIPEI--Taiwan's coast guard is planning to step up patrols in artificial reef sites following reports of Chinese vessels damaging ecological areas by scavenging wreckage from Taiwanese waters, the Council of Agriculture said Saturday.

The council, which oversees fisheries affairs, said that the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) and Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) — Taiwan's semi-official negotiator to China — have been notified of the illegal activities.

The SEF will contact its Chinese counterpart to request Chinese authorities reign in the activities, the council said, calling nevertheless on fishermen to report any Chinese vessels near artificial reef sites.

The council's statement was a response to a report in Saturday's Apple Daily, which cited Taiwanese fishermen who said they saw Chinese vessels removing ship wrecks in waters around the outlying islands of Penghu to sell as scrap metal.

The council said there are 89 artificial reef sites around Taiwan, totaling 237 square kilometers, where fishing nets are banned.

Nearly NT$1 billion (US$33.09 million) has been spent over the past decade to create artificial reef sites in order to restore marine resources, the council said.

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