Indonesia detains Taiwanese boat in fishing dispute

A Taiwanese fishing boat was detained by Indonesian authorities on Tuesday for allegedly fishing in disputed waters claimed by both Indonesia and Palau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman James Chang (章計平) said yesterday.

Taiwanese skipper Yang Chia-ching (楊嘉慶), two Filipino and five Indonesian crew members are safe and sound after the Ching Fu Fa 6, a 50 tonne tuna boat, was towed toward a port in the province of West Papua for investigation, Chang said.

Chang said an Indonesian military vessel confronted the boat, firing a warning shot into the air when it allegedly discovered the vessel fishing in the disputed waters.

The ministry disputed the claim of illegal fishing, saying the boat had a license issued by the Palau government to operate in the waters.

Chang said the ministry had notified the Republic of China embassy in Palau and the representative office in Indonesia about the incident and asked them to strive to protect the rights of the crewmembers.

The Palau government has offered to assist in the handling of the incident if it is determined by satellite that the boat was operating in waters within the country’s exclusive economic zone, Chang said.

“We have asked that the incident be dealt with in a fair manner,” he said.

Yang’s family reported the case to the ministry on Tuesday afternoon after they received a call from Yang asking for help. They then lost contact with the captain.

The captain reportedly told his family by telephone that the boat had been shot at and chased by an Indonesian military vessel.

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