BFAR defends release of Taiwanese fishermen
THE Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources on Thursday defended its decision to release the Taiwanese fishermen caught in Batanes last week.
“It was a joint decision [with Philippine Coast Guard] because they were all in one ship,” said BFAR regional director Jovita Ayson.
Philippine and Taiwanese coast guard ships figured in a standoff last May 25 near Batanes. The Filipino vessel with PCG and BFAR personnel onboard tried to arrest Taiwanese fishermen believed to be fishing near Philippine waters. The Taiwanese coast guard blocked their path and demanded the release of the fishermen.
The Taiwanese fishermen were released after a four-hour standoff.
“They had a big boat compared to our patrol boat. And they blocked the path…It’s not a BFAR decision alone. It’s based on the circumstances,” Ayson said.
The Taiwanese vessel was 63.5 meters long while the Philippine ship was 33 meters.
The incident occurred amid efforts of both economies to work on their differences in their overlapping marine economic areas.
In 2013, a Philippine coastguard officer killed a Taiwanese fisherman near Batanes also believed to be fishing in Philippine waters. The incident sparked outrage in Taiwan.
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