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Tiny Pacific nation of Palau detains 'illegal' Chinese fishing vessel December 15,2020   |  Source: The Guardian

A Chinese fishing vessel and its 28 crew have been detained in Palau, authorities said, creating a delicate diplomatic situation for the tiny Pacific nation, which is allied with Beijing’s rival Taiwan.

The boat, alleged to have been illegally harvesting sea cucumber, was intercepted by a patrol boat at Helen Reef, in Palau’s territorial waters, and escorted to the main island of Koror.

“They did have sea cucumber on there ... it’s estimated about 500 pounds (225kg),” said Victor Remengesau, director of Palau’s division of marine law and enforcement.

Sea cucumber – known on international markets as beche-de-mer – is a lucrative harvest for fishing crews across the Pacific. A Samoan court heard this year the animals fetch up to US$800 a kilogram in Asian markets, citing a Pacific Community report.

Chinese fishing fleets have been venturing further, and for longer, into the Pacific in search of new fishing grounds in recent months and years. But this is the first time a Chinese crew has been intercepted and detained in Palau’s territorial waters.

The intercepted fishing vessel, and six smaller boats, have all been detained by Palau.

Remengesau said the Chinese fishermen and 19 crew from the patrol boat that caught them were undergoing 14 days


© 2020 Guardian News & Media Limited or its affiliated companies.

Theme(s): Fishing Craft, Gear and Fishing Methods.

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