2 more Chinese boats seized for illegal fishing

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2 more Chinese boats seized for illegal fishing

The Incheon Coast Guard seized two interloping Chinese boats in South Korea’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), 50 kilometers (31 miles) west of Baengnyeong Island Tuesday morning.

The two ironclad 90-ton fishing boats were loaded with 1.4-tons of various kinds of fish, divided into 70 crates. The Incheon Coast Guard said that the sailors will be charged for illegally fishing in South Korea’s EEZ. All 17 sailors, including the captains, were remanded in custody for questioning.

The capture came only hours after a fleet of Chinese fishing boats appeared along the Northern Limit Line (NLL) in the Yellow Sea 7 a.m. Tuesday. According to the Incheon Coast Guard, a total of 301 boats were spotted - 182 near Yeonpyeong Island, 70 near Baengnyeong Island and 49 between the two islands.

More than 180 Chinese boats were sighted each day between June 1 and June 4 along the NLL near Yeonpyeong Island. The number fell to 108 on Monday, likely due to the capture of the two boats the day before. The Incheon District Court issued detention warrants for the two Chinese captains Tuesday afternoon for illegally fishing in South Korean territorial seas, while the nine sailors who worked for them were kept in temporary custody until expulsion.

In an interview with the JoongAng Ilbo on Monday, Park Tae-won, a chief fisherman from Yeonpyeong Island, said, “The oil from their engines ruins our fisheries. All the waste of their 180-day stay is dumped into the sea.”

A rich aquatic ecosystem thrives around the NLL near Yeonpyeong Island, the area being a de facto inter-Korean maritime border, rarely approached due to possible conflict with North Korea. “The sea around NLL is a spawning area for blue crabs,” said Kim Kab-bin, one of the Korean captains who seized the two Chinese boats, in an interview with the JoongAng Ilbo on Monday. “The Chinese know this, and they take everything they can get there, leaving our waters devoid of crabs.”

BY KIM MIN-WOOK [lee.dongeun@joongang.co.kr]
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