China / HK Macao Taiwan

75 Taiwan fishing boats sail to Diaoyu Islands

(Xinhua) Updated: 2012-09-24 17:01

YILAN, Taiwan - A total of 75 fishing boats from Taiwan sailed to the Diaoyu Islands on Monday afternoon from a port in the island's northeastern county of Yilan.

The boats will sail around the Diaoyu Islands in a move to protect the fishing rights in nearby waters and to protest against Japan's illegal "purchase" of the Diaoyu Islands. It is said to be the largest unofficial maritime move in Taiwan to "protect the Diaoyu Islands."

On Monday morning, dozens of fishing boats were seen anchored in the local port in Yilan, with banners, which read that the "waters near the Diaoyu Islands are traditional fishing sites for Taiwan's fishermen and their rights should not be encroached upon."

Fishermen supplied their boats with fresh water, fuel and food.

Chen Chun-sheng, president of the Suao Fishermen's Association, told a press conference before the boats set out that after Japan illegally "purchased" part of the Diaoyu Islands, Taiwan fishermen's fishing rights in nearby waters were at risk and local fishermen voluntarily organized the move under the theme of "protecting the fishing rights for survival."

He said that a total of 78 fishing boats volunteered to take the voyage, and at least 75 of them will make it, despite unfavorable weather conditions.

He added that when the boats arrive in nearby waters of the Diaoyu Islands, the fishermen will try to get within 12 nautical miles of the islands and sail around them at least once.

Shortly after 3 pm local time, fishermen honked their horns and some lighted crackers and fireworks to pray for a safe voyage.

Wu Fengyu, a 62-year-old local fisherman, told Xinhua that his boat has fished in the waters near the Diaoyu Islands many times and production there is usually good.

But the Japanese have increasingly harassed boats from Taiwan in a wider area, making local fishermen very angry, he said.

This time, he and his fellow fishermen want to protect their fishing rights there by sailing around the Diaoyu Islands.

Bad weather on the sea and possible interceptions by the Japanese might pose a serious challenge to the fishermen and their boats, but they said they are not worried, adding they want to show their anger and resolution to the Japanese.

According to organizers, the boats are expected to arrive in an area some 20 nautical miles away from the Diaoyu Islands at 5 am on Tuesday. They will join boats that come from others parts of Taiwan and then sail around the Diaoyu Islands in five-boat groups to protest against the Japanese move to "purchase" part of the islands.

Meanwhile, Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou on Monday reiterated the island's position on defending the sovereignty of the islands and protecting the fishing rights in nearby waters.

He told a group of British visitors in Taipei that the waters near the Diaoyu Islands have been traditional fishing sites for Taiwan's fishermen for the past 100 years and that they are angry as their fishing activities have been increasingly disrupted by the Japanese.

After the Japanese government announced its plan to "purchase" part of the Diaoyu Islands earlier this month, the Chinese government and its people have voiced their firm opposition and strong protest.

Local authorities and the public in Taiwan have also expressed strong protest against Japan's move.


Hot Topics