Illegal Chinese fishing boats with inverted PH flag nabbed in Batanes waters

Image from BFAR official Facebook page
  • Two illegal Chinese fishing boats with 25 crew members were accosted by Philippine authorities off Batanes waters
  • The vessels were both flying an inverted Philippine flag when they were nabbed while operating inside the country’s territory
  • A Philippine official said the illegal poachers apparently tried to hide the vessels’ identities by using the Philippine flag

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine authorities have apprehended at least two Chinese boats illegally fishing inside the country’s territorial waters in Batanes on Monday, May 16.

Operatives from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and Philippine Coast Guards (PCG) were conducting routine patrol when they chanced upon two fishing boats –   Shen Lian Cheng 719 and Shen Lian Cheng 720 – between the waters of the Babuyan Island and the Batanes province.

Shen Lian Cheng 719 had 12 crew members, while Shen Lian Chen 720 had 13. The boats are suspected to be illegal poachers operating within the Philippine’s traditional fishing grounds.

The two Chinese vessels were also flying an inverted Philippine flag when they were accosted around 3 pm by joint elements of BFAR and PCG, the authorities said.

Members of BFAR and PCG inspected the documents of the 25 crew members and all were found to be registered under the People’s Republic of China with no authority to enter the Philippine archipelago.

The suspected poachers were escorted by BFAR patrol vessels MCS 3010 and MM Patrol Boat 3049 and taken into custody at Basco, Batanes for further questioning.

“Based on existing rules, the fact that both foreign fishing vessels were flying Philippine flag gave rise to the presumption that they are engaged in poaching, as there seems to be an attempt to conceal the vessels’ true identity to enable themselves to engage in fishing activity in Philippine waters,” said Department of Agriculture (DA) Undersecretary for Fisheries, Atty. Asis G. Perez, in a statement.

“We will ensure, however, that the incident will be thoroughly investigated following the proper procedures,” the DA official added.

The report of the incident has been formally relayed to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) who will have to officially inform the Chinese embassy. An interpreter for the Chinese fishermen has also been requested for the investigation.