45  CHINESE  FISHERMEN  HELD  IN  ZAMBO FOR  ILLEGAL  FISHING  IN  RP  WATERS

[PHOTO AT LEFT - FINDING MAMENG: A Napoleon wrasse swims near corals after some 120 of the endangered fish were released in their natural habitat in the Tubbataha Reef last Wednesday. The first batch of wrasses, or mameng, was part of the 1,307 fish confiscated from suspected Chinese poachers last December. The wrasses were nursed back to health for three months at a DA-BFAR hatchery in Puerto Princesa Bay. This underwater shot was taken by presidential daughter Luli Arroyo, who helped support and document the return of the wrasses.]

ZAMBOANGA CITY, MARCH 23, 2007 (STAR) (AFP) The Philippine navy said Friday it had detained 45 Chinese fishermen who were fishing illegally in local waters.

The men were aboard three Chinese-registered boats intercepted by the Philippine Navy in the channel between Basilan island and this southern port, said Rear Admiral Emilio Marayag, the navy chief for the region.

He said the fishermen denied they were poaching and said they were only passing through on their way back to China from Indonesia when their vessels ran low on fuel.

The boats were escorted to Zamboanga after they were intercepted on March 17. The crew remained on the boats under guard as the government prepared to file criminal charges against them.

"If found guilty they will be fined 100,000 dollars," Marayag told reporters.

The foreign department is notifying the Chinese embassy in Manila of the arrests, Marayag added.

Navy seizes 3 Chinese boats The Philippine Star 03/20/2007

ZAMBOANGA CITY – The Philippine Navy intercepted three Chinese fishing boats last Saturday and held 45 Chinese crewmen for questioning after they were caught in Philippine waters near Basilan.

Rear Adm. Emilio Marayag, Naval Forces Western Mindanao combined commander, said the Chinese-registered fishing boats were intercepted while steaming through the channel between Basilan and Sta. Cruz Island off Zamboanga City Saturday afternoon.

"Our alerted naval unit spotted and immediately intercepted them because they were not in international waters," he said.

Marayag said the three fishing boats were escorted to the nearby Navy pier in Lower Calarian in Zamboanga City.

The Bureau of Fishery, Bureau of Immigration and the Regional Committee on Illegal Entrants are investigating the crewmen, he added.

Under initial interrogation, the Chinese claimed that they were fishing in Indonesia and were on their way back to China when their fishing boats ran out of fuel and they had to pass by the southern part of Philippines to fill up their tanks.

However, Marayag said the Navy suspects that the Chinese were buying fish in Indonesia.

Only two of the three fishing boats were loaded with a few fish, he added. —Roel Pareño


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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