28 Sep 2007

Fishing surveillance nets two Taiwanese vessels in FSM waters

4:53 pm on 28 September 2007

Two Taiwanese tuna fishing vessels have been caught fishing illegally in the central Pacific at the end of an international surveillance mission.

The Eastern Star, a Taiwanese purse seiner registered in Vanuatu, was arrested for illegal fishing operations in the Federated States of Micronesia just north of the equator.

According to an Australian Navy advisor in the Marshall Islands, the owners of the vessel was fined 200,000 US dollars which was paid immediately to secure the ship's release.

A second Taiwan purse seiner, the Ching Feng, was also detained in Pohnpei, the capital of the FSM, and an investigation is ongoing.

The surveillance operation, called Big Eye, involved Australian-provided patrol boats from Palau, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Kiribati and Papua New Guinea.

It also include the air forces of Australia and New Zealand, US Coast Guard planes and ships, and a French naval frigate to cover an estimated two million square miles of the central and western Pacific.