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PALAU AUTHORITIES CAPTURE 3 MORE VIETNAMESE FISHING CRAFT
14/11/2014 | Administrator
By Jose Rodriguez T. Senase
Three more Vietnamese fishing craft were apprehended by Palau authorities while inside a conservation area off Kayangel State.
The latest incident brought to eight the number of Vietnamese fishing craft apprehended by Palau authorities since last month.
Kayangel Governor Jeffrey Titiml disclosed that Kayangel State Rangers and Marine Law personnel aboard the patrol boat “Kabekel M’tal” went to Ngeruangel Marine Reserve evening of Friday, November 7, 2014 on the lookout for illegal fishing activities in the area.
“These Vietnamese boats usually fish inside the conservation at night and then leave the area during the day,” he noted.
According to the Kayangel Governor, authorities initially spotted three contacts that evening. “Hours later, the number increased to six,” Titiml said.
Titiml said that they called Marine Law for backup and waited until Saturday morning to initiate the operation to chase and capture the contacts, which were identified as foreign fishing vessels.
Titiml said that the patrol boats PSS Remeliik and “Bul” responded to the area, and together with “Kabekel M’tal”, caught up with three boats, which were identified as coming from Vietnam. The other three contacts were able to slip away.
According to the Governor, the three Vietnamese boats were apprehended late afternoon of Saturday, November 8, 2014 between Ngkesol and Ngerael Reefs.
He said that drums filled with sea cucumbers, lobster and reef fish were found on the boats.
Titiml said the crew of the three Vietnamese boats minus their captains was transferred to the patrol vessels. There were 43 Vietnamese aboard the three boats. Their place of origin has not yet been ascertained.
“The captains together with boarding (steaming) parties remained with the boats as they were being escorted towards Koror,” he disclosed.
While underway, one of the boats suddenly erupted in flames and sank. Titiml said that before the fire erupted the smell of fuel was noticed by some of the apprehending authorities.
“The boat was slippery and there was smell of diesel,” he pointed out.
The remaining two boats and their escorts arrived at the Marine Law Dock on Sunday morning, Nov. 9, 2014. The captured boats remain anchored at the Marine Law Dock.
Titiml said the Division of Marine Law and Kayangel Rangers were assisted in the operation by Ngarchelong Rangers and personnel from the Division of Fish and Wildlife and Division of Drug Enforcement.
The Kayangel Governor then appealed for firearms to be provided to the Kayangel and Ngarchelong Rangers.
“It is hard for the Rangers to go after those foreign boats illegally fishing in our areas because of lack of guns,” he pointed out.
Titiml cited an incident on the night on Nov. 11 where the Rangers were unable to chase and capture several contacts, which were believed to be foreign fishing vessels illegally fishing in his State, because of the lack of firearms and the small boat they are using.
Marine Law Chief Thomas Tutii said the captured crew is being held inside one of the boats with tightened security to prevent their escape.
Tutii said they will file Illegal Fishing, Illegal Entry, and other charges against the Vietnamese crew of the three boats.
“We don’t have an interpreter yet who knows the Vietnamese language, “said Tutii, while appealing for someone who has knowledge of the language to come forward and help interpret for the Vietnamese in court.
The Marine Law Chief also disclosed that they have already contacted the Ministry of State (MOS) so it gets somebody from the Vietnamese Embassy in the Philippines to come to Palau to settle the matter.
On November 5, 2014, three Vietnamese fishing vessels with 38 crew were apprehended by Palau authorities off the Velasco Reef in Kayangel State. Prior to that, on October 28, 2014, two Vietnamese-crewed boats were captured in waters of Airai State.
In March of this year, Palau apprehended eight Vietnamese fishermen illegally fishing at Ngeruangel Conservation Area.
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MIHAMA RETURNS TO PALAU
14/11/2014 | Administrator
By Jose Rodriguez T. Senase
The Japanese fishery patrol vessel “Mihama” has returned to Palau to monitor and patrol Palau’s waters under a prior agreement between the Palau and Japan governments.
The “Mihama” first arrived in Palau in the early part of October. After two weeks of patrolling Palau’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the ship departed Palau on October 13, 2014.
According to a Marine Law official, the ship went to international waters and returned back to Palau to resume its patrol duties in collaboration with the island nation’s maritime authorities. The ship was spotted docked at the Malakal Port two weeks ago.
The official added that while here, “Mihama” conducts patrol operations together with the patrol boat PSS Remeliik. The official did not say until when the “Mihama” stays in Palau.
A high-ranking official of the national government said that the “Mihama” came here under a ship rider agreement between Japan and Palau.
Islands Times tried to contact the Japan Embassy here to inquire about the mission of the “Mihama”, but was directed to get information from the Palau Government.
Built in 2001, the “Mihama” belongs to the Fisheries Agency of Japan. The ship weighs 499 tons and is 64 meters long.
The ship is tasked to monitor Japanese long line tuna fishing fleets to ensure they are not over fishing. The “Mihama” is also responsible for inspecting Japanese fishing fleets in the Atlantic Ocean.
The “Mihama” was involved in the rescue of seven drifting fishermen from the Philippines who were found 145 nautical miles (NM) southeast of Palau on October 5, 2014. The “Mihama” towed the Filipino vessel before turning it over to the PSS Remeliik which brought it and the fishermen to the Malakal Port two days later.