Taiwanese Poacher caught and detained for fishing in Batanes; Insisted no Fish in Taiwan so coming in to the Philippines


Taiwanese fisherman Tsai Po (in red) is questioned by Philippine officials Wednesday.  September 04, 2013 (Photo courtesy of Philippine authorities)

A Taiwanese man has been arrested for illegal fishing in the Philippines, police said Thursday as the two neighbors seek to mend fences after the shooting death of another Taiwanese fishermen in May.

Tsai Po, 54, was detained on Tuesday while diving for lobsters off the coast in the Philippines' Batanes group of islands near the maritime border with Taiwan, provincial police officer Victor de Sagon told AFP.

"They have been doing this for a long time. This is rampant poaching," said de Sagon, adding that Tsai was among a group of suspects who were illegally fishing just off Siayan Island.

Tsai Po told CNA that he had been operating his raft made of rubber pipes in the waters near the Batanes Islands at around 3 p.m. Tuesday, when he was intercepted by a Philippine ship with six or seven officers who "looked like marine law enforcement."

The 53-year-old said the officers "were quite unfriendly" when they handcuffed him, confiscated his belongings, and removed the fuel from his vessel.

He called his detention "totally unreasonable" because, he says, he was operating in waters that also claimed by Taiwan as their exclusive economic zone.

Captured Taiwanese poacher Tsai Po navigated around 13 to 14 hours to through his raft from Houpi Fishing Port in Hengchun, southern Taiwan, to the Batanes group of Islands, the area which he was captured.

Due to the nearly depleted fishing ground around the islands in the southernmost tip of Taiwan; Taipei recently claimed the waters down south most around Batanes Group of Islands as if the Philippines didn't exist.

Captured Taiwanese poacher Tsai Po is to be charged with poaching, which is punishable by a US$100,000 fine, confiscation of his catch, fishing equipment and fishing vessel, the officer added.

De Sagon rejected reports in the Taiwanese press that the detained suspect had been treated roughly.

As reported in Focus Taiwan Online website, they complained that captured Taiwanese poacher Mr. Tsai Po has only been given a small amount of food and said he feels "unwell" where he is being held, some 176.72 kilometers south of Taiwan's southernmost tip.

Taiwanese captured poacher Mr. Tai Po's complain for small amount of food given to him would be acceptable but he must have to obey and accept it as he is in the Philippines and it's the food ration standard here for detainees.  

"We are not violating his rights. He is being fed well, he underwent a medical check-up, and he is in regular contact with his wife and the (de facto) Taiwanese embassy in Manila," de Sagon said.

Philippine government is boosting the presence of Patrol boats around Batanes Group of Islands as foreign poachers keeps entering the area to fish inside the country.

Taiwanese and Chinese fishermen are complaining for poor catch around their waters so they have to go further out to sea to get good catches, because fishery resources around their waters have been nearly depleted in recent years.

Philippine government also intensifies the patrol to protect the marine resources of the country which are intended for local fishermen.

Local Philippine fishermen who are using their traditional way of fishing is of no bouts compared to the Taiwanese and Chinese fishermen who are coming usually in a fleet using modern equipment in fishing and harvesting marine resources as if no tomorrows to come.

The arrest followed a diplomatic spat triggered by the shooting death of a 65-year-old crew member of a Taiwanese fishing boat on May 9 by a Philippine coastguard patrol.

Taipei banned the hiring of new Philippine workers on the island, where some 87,000 Philippine Nationals are employed according to official figures.

Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou also rejected an initial official apology and demanded criminal charges against the coastguards for an act that he described as "cold-blooded murder."

The two countries began repairing the rift after Philippine authorities in August recommended homicide charges against the coastguards following pressure from Taiwan, which is not diplomatically recognized by Manila.

Taiwan has since lifted the hiring ban on Philippine workers.

The shooting occurred in Balintang Channel near the Batanes group of islands in the Northern Luzon Island of the Philippines.

Southernmost tip of Taiwan which was once named "Formosan" during the Spanish occupancy in Asia was under the Manila government and was governed by the old "Las Islas Filipinas."

Taiwan recently lays claim to the waters around Batanes Group of Islands as if the Philippines didn't exist but somewhat settled with the Philippines agreed the claim of Taiwan going eastward direction to the Pacific Ocean not to the Batanes Group of Islands .

Ibatans in Batanes Group of Islands' livelihoods are just their traditional way of fishing and farming.

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